A father’s life-changing invention leads his daughter to her first steps

A father’s life-changing invention leads his daughter to her first steps

Immobility can feel like being held captive. Derek Boshard realised this when his daughter Erin was born with a rare genetic disorder called dup15q, which rendered her unable to walk.

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Freedom Walkers - Facebook

To enable her movement and development, Boshard set off in search of a mobility aid. “I got a quote for R69,000,” he says. Unable to afford the device, Boshard had to come up with an alternative option. 

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Venturing to his garage, he structured a unique, lightweight walker using a variety of materials, mainly PVC piping, to help Erin strengthen her core and legs. “I’m not an industrial designer, just a father with a big passion,” Boshard says. The impact that the gadget has had on Erin is remarkable. “From lying on the floor and not even able to crawl, we’re able to walk a full kilometre just holding one hand,” Boshard says. “We don’t think she’d be where she is today if it wasn’t for the walker.” 

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After sharing his experience on Facebook, Boshard’s design gained considerable attention. He’d unintentionally created a tool that could aid people with disabilities. Boshard has since developed his invention, which he calls the Freedom Walker

“It’s had a compound effect on the hope that we’ve experienced for ourselves,” he says. “We get to see that in other people’s lives.” Through his innovation, Boshard has helped many others take their first steps. “One of the greatest gifts you can give a child with special needs is independence,” he says.

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