Appropriate Paper-based Technology (APT) is a method used to design and manufacture furniture or equipment which can include assistive technologies such as standers or supportive seating for disabled children in order to support physical and social development.
APT utilises accessible and affordable recycled resources in communities affected by poverty and challenging climates. Materials used include waste paper and pre-used packaging materials such as corrugated card and cardboard boxes. Flour is mixed with water to act as a bonding and surfacing agent and to seal the completed articles. Water based paints can be added to make the equipment colourful.
Approximately 70% of the population of children with a disability in Kenya live below the poverty line. The families living in poverty who have children with severe physical disabilities do not have access to postural support equipment. Any such equipment is either not available or is too expensive. As a result, the children spend most of the day and night lying on the floor or bed and feeling isolated. Providing APT equipment for these children affords them the opportunity to participate in family life and enables some to access school.
In March this year - Cath Barton, a Physiotherapist and Deb May an Occupational therapist completed a successful training trip to Njoro in Kenya.
Njoro is an agricultural town 18km south west of Nakuru, it is situated on the western rim of the Rift Valley. They were working with the Potter’s House CBO to set up three new workshops and support an existing one to produce adapted seats and standing frames for children with disabilities using APT.Training was provided to five therapists, six workshop staff and one Ortho-tech from five locations in Kenya, (Nakuru, Molo, Nyahururu, Maua and Nairobi).
The participants were keen to learn both the theory and the practical skills for making APT equipment. The training was multi-modal and comprised of power point presentations and discussions, as well as practical training. Therapists had the opportunity to learn to make APT devices so they could fully understand the construction process and how devices can be adapted with the addition of lateral supports, curved back supports, headrests, and foot rests, wedges to tilt devices, harnesses and pelvic straps.
Fourteen local children were assessed by Cath and Deb during the visit, and in-depth discussions took place during their fitting appointments regarding the child’s presentation and requirements of the equipment. Six workshop trainees shared some of the key presentations but focussed on learning how to make boards, seats, standing frames and household objects. They also learned how to measure children so had a full understanding of what therapists were asking of them. Ten children were measured for equipment and now have a comfortable chair, standing frame or wheelchair insert. Four children are now able to attend a local school for the first time with support from the Potter’s House CBO.
Cath said: "This experience of being able to make such a difference to these families lives with this equipment made out of just cardboard, paper and flour-based paste was incredible, and overwhelming at times. It was delightful to see these children come up off the floor and be at eye level to communicate and join in with their families. We loved it and are keen to continue in our efforts to get APT workshops up and running by locals for local children with disabilities."
"We are very grateful to the multi-agency international training support (MAITS) grant that helped fund the therapists and grants from both the Gibb’s Trust and the Welsh government’s Wales/Africa grant scheme in funding the setting up of the workshops and trainees."
If you would like to find out more about APT used in this way or would like financially support this work please contact:
APT for social development, 24, Penpentre, Talybont-on-Usk, Brecon, LD3 7YQ. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 07801940650
APT for social development (HOME | Apt4sd), partners Kenyan community-based organisations to provide training and equipment for the development of APT workshops producing local assistive devices for children with severe disabilities.