UCF entrepreneur changing world one screen at a time
ORLANDO, Fla. — One University of Central Florida student’s “junk pile” has changed the life of a five-year-old.
David Shamblin used an old 13-inch LCD screen from his “junk pile” to create a box gadget at home, which has given Edward Reyes an opportunity to communicate with the world. Until that moment, Edward could not speak, feed himself, hold a bottle, walk or use his hands in any purposeful way. He spent most of his time in a wheelchair just staring off into space and no one was quite sure if he could make sense of the world around him.
“He is developmentally delayed. It is suspected that he has a genetic syndrome, but tests have yet to come back positive for a specific diagnosis,” said Sabrina Shamblin, the student’s wife who is one of Edward’s occupational therapists.
Edward’s mom had given her one clue – he liked “Yo Gabba Gabba!”, a children’s television show geared toward preschoolers. Each episode teaches children a life or social skill as the costumed characters in bright colors dance to upbeat music. The show is the only thing that would capture Edward’s attention at home. He still wouldn’t move with purpose, but at least he was focused on the TV screen, his mother said.
Sabrina mentioned to her husband one night that she couldn’t find any toys that she could use in a therapy session in conjunction with the show to motivate Edward.
No problem, David told her. He’d make something to her specifications from his junk pile, a collection of discarded electronic items he has collected over the years.
Fast-forward a few weeks and David gave Sabrina a screen connected to a large button that plays snippets of “Yo Gabba Gabba!” espisodes. To continue to see the next snippet, Edward would have to learn to push the button.
“I took it to work and told David not to get too excited, because I thought it would take a few weeks before Edward could get the hang of it, if it worked at all,” Sabrina said.
But that same day, Edward started pushing the button on his own after being shown how.
Something clicked, said Edward’s mother, Jenny Reyes, of Kissimmee. He connected cause and effect. He finally could understand that he has power within his hands.
“I am so grateful to David and Sabrina,” Reyes said. “David created something out of his heart and it is making such a huge difference in Edward’s life. They have given me hope again.”
Image courtesy of UCF