The Freedom Chair: Experience More of the Outdoors

Global Research Innovation & Technology (GRIT) has launched the Freedom Chair, an off-road mobility device that helps people with disabilities move beyond the pavement. Like an arm-powered mountain bike, the Freedom Chair enables people to have mobility on off-road on trails, in parks, and other places where regular wheelchairs get trapped. It is particularly well suited for travel to locations that may not comply with ADA regulations such cobblestones, steep grades, and grass.

“(The Freedom Chair) is faster and more mobile getting on and off the road. See even he worked up a sweat running after me. As for getting out and having a good time off roading, this is much better. This is great.” – Stephen Pento, 23 year wheelchair user.

GRIT has just concluded pre-orders for the Freedom Chair on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter and will be accepting orders on their homepage, goGRIT.org. With a planned retail price of $3,000, the Freedom Chair is half the cost of similar products for sale in the United States. GRIT has recently introduced a fundraising goal to sponsor an adaptive participant to take part in an adventure. “We provide the Freedom Chair, the user provides the ambition,” says GRIT CTO and co-founder Mario Bollini.

The Freedom Chair is an improved version of the Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC), which the team designed while students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The LFC and Freedom Chair both feature a unique lever drivetrain, helping people with disabilities roll over obstacles and travel efficiently over long distances. The LFC has been in production since 2012 and over 1,000 wheelchairs have been distributed around the developing world. Over the past two years, GRIT has worked closely with wheelchair riders around the United States to adapt the LFC to their unique needs. “The Freedom Chair appeals to a wide audience of riders, from returning veterans who want to get back on the trail, to parents who want to roll off the pavement to watch their kids’ soccer games – it is a great asset to travelling,” said Tish Scolnik, CEO and co-founder.

“People in wheelchairs want to get off the road, they want to be away from the sidewalk. It’s not very fun going outside and you creep up and then all you see is that edge, but you can’t go past it because your chair is going to get stuck.   …being able to say there are other options out there, you can go past that edge…I mean the whole point of rehab is to push someone closer to the edge and finding a new edge to push them to.”   – Rebecca Adams, Supervisor of adaptive equipment, Tewksbury State Hospital.

For more information, including hi-res photos, please contact GRIT CEO Tish Scolnik at tish@gogrit.org.

ABOUT GRIT
GRIT is a social enterprise startup based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The founders met while studying mechanical engineering at MIT, and have been working together since 2007 when they started working in developing countries. They founded GRIT to make the Freedom Chair a reality. GRIT has been recognized by MassChallenge, Fast Company, TEDxBoston, R&D 100, and more.

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