WEFTEC Tote Bags Repurposed as Wheelchair Accessories

December 15, 2016

Featured

Wheels for the World is an international program that delivers and fits mobility devices to those in need across the world. A patient received a WEFTEC 2016 bag during the mission in Peru. Photo courtesy of Robert Paulette.

Wheels for the World is an international program that delivers and fits mobility devices to those in need across the world. A patient received a WEFTEC 2016 bag during the mission in Peru. Photo courtesy of Robert Paulette.

During WEFTEC® 2016, orange-and-black tote bags given to attendees made appearances across New Orleans. Just one month after WEFTEC, these bags traveled some 4800 km (3000 mi.) south and could be seen on the backs of wheelchairs in Lima, Peru.

The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) recently partnered with Joni and Friends International Disability Center (Agoura Hills, Calif.) to support its Wheels for the World program by donating about 200 leftover tote bags from WEFTEC 2016 and other past WEFTEC conferences. According to Robert “Bob” Paulette, a WEF member since 1974 and Wheels for the World volunteer, the tote bags “fit perfectly behind wheelchairs and walkers.”

Paulette, an engineer with Forsgren Associates Inc. (Albuquerque, N.M.), learned about Wheels for the World through his Albuquerque church group. The program refurbishes donated wheelchairs, transports them to foreign countries, and fits them for handicapped folks in need across the world.

Robert Paulette (front, second from right) has been a WEF member since 1974, and a member of the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association since 1994. He noticed the orange-and-black tote bags at WEFTEC 2016 and came up with an idea to reuse them. Photo courtesy of Robert Paulette.

Robert Paulette (front, second from right) has been a WEF member since 1974, and a member of the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association since 1994. He noticed the orange-and-black tote bags at WEFTEC 2016 and came up with an idea to reuse them. Photo courtesy of Robert Paulette.

On Oct. 28, Paulette and 24 other volunteers traveled to San Juan de Lurigancho, one of the poorest districts of Lima. That weekend, volunteer physical therapists, mechanics, translators, and support staff worked at a local church to prepare about 200 wheelchairs for mobility-impaired residents. On Oct. 31, the team commenced 4 long days of modifying wheelchairs to suit the needs of individual patients. While WEF’s first shipment of bags did not make it in time to be distributed at this event, Paulette did bring about 30 WEFTEC 2016 bags that were hung on some of the wheelchairs. The 200 other bags will be distributed at future events.

— Justin Jacques, WEF Highlights

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this!
, ,

Comments are closed.