The No Barriers Summit brings together a community of participants who embrace their barriers and learn to harness them for their own good and the good of the community. Participants are engaged in the No Barriers Mindset, focusing on developing several key characteristics: 1)Curiosity for exploration & innovation, 2)Participation in strong teams, 3)Harnessing adversity 4)Service of others. This No Barriers Summit provides technological, physical and emotional support for participants with a wide variety of abilities and disabilities to start or continue down the path of embracing the No Barriers Mindset in unique ways over the course of the 4-day event. It is a combination of innovation and community building as a solution for overcoming challenges.
The event structure is centered around 3 days of outdoor adventure and arts clinics that allow participants to try new activities with a community of supporters to help make the activities accessible to the many different ability levels of participants. These clinics include (but are not limited to) rock climbing, hiking, biking, photography, filmography, painting a mural, tennis, golf, etc. Evenings are filled with events rooted in building a strong community, sharing stories of success and showcasing leading technological solutions to barriers.This comprehensive story from Al Jazeera America appeared in my Facebook timeline via Norman Costa, one of my Facebook friends. Go to the link for a longer story and GIF images.
"TechKnow" contributor Phil Torres travels to Aspen, Colo., to meet Amanda Boxtel, the first person in the U.S. to purchase and receive an Ekso Bionics exoskeleton suit -- called E-Legs -- of her very own. More than 20 years ago, Boxtel was paralyzed during a skiing accident.
Young kids at a camp in the town where Boxtel lives spent a year helping to raise enough funds to purchase the exoskeleton, which carries a price tag of more than $100,000. "TechKnow" cameras arrived in time to witness the un-boxing of Boxtel's own bionic suit.
The Ekso Bionics' suit, a battery-powered robot, weighs only 50 pounds and can support Boxtel's body, giving her legs the power to stand tall and walk again.
"The moment she stood up, I was just amazed, because she's been sitting down for 21 years," says one of the young campers. "I would've been thrilled to be in that position."
"That was my dream right there," says a young girl. "All I wanted to see was her walk."
Boxtel got the call asking if she was interested in a role as one of Ekso Bionics' test pilots, or Ekso Ambassadors, in 2010. The suit has completely changed Boxtel's expectations for herself and her future since then. After her accident, she was told that she'd never walk again. The bionic suit has allowed her to prove that verdict wrong.
"Probably the most profound moment was when I stood up, and I tried to see the children's faces. Some of them -- the really little ones -- they were just in awe," Boxtel says of demonstrating the suit for campers for the first time. "And then to have that heart-to-heart hug [with adults]. When I hug in a wheelchair, there's a disconnect."
She even got to hug the ski patroller who first found her after her accident and saved her life.
"He looked at me in my eyes -- standing up eye-to-eye, and he said, 'I never knew that you were this tall,'" Boxtel says.
Ekso Bionics' headquarters are located in Richmond, CA. Until recent months, Boxtel has had to travel back and forth to their facilities to use the bionic suit. Though people in her life in Colorado knew that a robotic device was helping her walk, the un-boxing of her own personal suit is the first time they're able to see it happen live.
"The first time I stood up, I went home and I cried hard, in all honesty. These were emotions that I had been dreaming about for so long, and I felt so good in my body. I slept hard, and I wasn't in pain."