Kaelan Richards: 202-973-7175, krichards@ucp.org



Team designs solar-powered wheelchair, awarded 1st prize of $20,000

Donates chair to man who submitted idea, funds to help advance World CP Day

Washington, D.C. (May 10, 2013) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) and its international partners have announced the winner of the first annual World CP Day invention contest: a team from the University of Virginia, who created a solar-powered wheelchair.

World CP Day was established in 2012 as a way to raise awareness and support for people living with cerebral palsy around the world. Through the “Change My World In One Minute” contest, people can submit ideas for something that would make a real difference in the lives of people with cerebral palsy—and an incredible 473 ideas were submitted. From these, three final ideas were selected: a fold-up motorized wheelchair, a documentary on cerebral palsy in the 21st century and a solar-powered wheelchair. The public was then invited to submit proposals for a chance to win $25,000 and to bring their ideas to life.

The team from the University of Virginia, led by Dr. Mool Gupta, included six students: Dennis Waldron, Duncan McGillivray, Craig Ungaro, Ankit Shah, Maria Michael and Kyung Kim, and was primarily constructed at the National Institute of Aerospace’s Research and Innovation Laboratories Facility. The concept for the wheelchair was inspired by the design of retractable roofs on convertible cars and utilizes lightweight yet robust materials with high efficiency solar cells. This innovative combination enables the wheelchair to increase its range by more than 40 percent over battery usage, and to run a one mile per hour indefinitely without consuming any battery charge. Operated by a single switch, the wheelchair includes standard components as well as USB power outlets.

Awarded $20,000 for their first prize invention, Dr. Gupta and his students decided to use the prize money to refine and ship the wheelchair to the man who posted the suggestion online, Alper Sirvan, who has cerebral palsy, and donate the remaining proceeds back to UCP to help advance World CP Day in the years to come.

“UCP is thrilled to present this award to the University of Virginia for their creation of a solar powered wheelchair as part of the first World Cerebral Palsy Day’s Change My Life in One Minute invention contest, which focused on concrete, attainable ideas that could change people’s lives. We are very proud to say that, together with the incredible efforts of the University of Virginia, Dr. Gupta, and all of the students and partners involved, one of these ideas has been brought to life,” said Stephen Bennett, former President and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “And it is truly inspiring to hear of the University of Virginia’s decision to use the prize money to send the wheelchair to the man who inspired the idea and return the remaining funds. I applaud these extraordinary individuals for their work, and appreciate their efforts in helping to ensure that people living with cerebral palsy can live their lives to the fullest.”

“This team of graduate and undergraduate students have created a device that will truly benefit those with disabilities,” Engineering School Dean James H. Aylor said. “The students on the team are excellent examples of the type of engineer we strive to produce in the U.Va. Engineering School – innovative leaders who are agents of change in society. I am thankful for the World CP Day organization for giving them this opportunity and for the National Institute of Aerospace for providing laboratory space.”

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About United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

About the World CP Day Campaign:
World Cerebral Palsy Day is an innovative way for 17 million people with CP to tell the world what they need to make their lives better and it’s a way to turn some of those ideas into reality. World CP Day was piloted in 2012. From 1 August, people with cerebral palsy, their families and friends posted ideas online for something that could be created, developed or modified that would change the world for someone with cerebral palsy. Ideas were posted as text or video. Each idea needed to take only 1 minute to read or watch. From World CP Day, September 4, people were encouraged to go online, review the ideas and vote for the concepts that could have the greatest impact on people’s lives. At the end of September, the World Cerebral Palsy Day Panel reviewed the ideas and public votes. Three ideas were shortlisted for development. Social activists, researchers, inventors, and innovators were then invited to turn the shortlisted ideas into reality. They competed for a total prize pool of $25,000. The winner was announced on April 27, 013.

World CP Day partners include organizations from America, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Finland, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Singapore, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, St Lucia, Sweden, Turkey and the UK.