Three-dimensional (3D) printing is an innovative, self-employment option for people with developmental disabilities. At least, that is the belief of Rocky Grimes, founder and executive director of the 501(c)3 nonprofit, Heart of Unlimited Boundaries, Inc. (The HUB).
Grimes’ idea turned into a concentration after the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) awarded a $30,000 Innovative Technology grant to the HUB. The state-funded dollars helped execute a two-part project. The first, an eight-week pilot used to develop a 3D printing training curriculum. Part two was designed to help providers navigate through Medicaid and DODD regulations with career planning.
DODD modeled the grant criteria after the show, Shark Tank, including four deliverables — core team, strategic plan, implementation, and final report. Each deliverable is as important as the other. Without the presence of all four, the grant would not be awarded. At the end of the day, the HUB checked all the boxes.
A major selling point for DODD was the HUB’s ability to pitch “self-employment in a box.” To be successful, Grimes wanted the 3DSE program taught by an instructor who is already knowledgeable in the 3D printing field.
So, where did the idea for the HUB and the passion for the industry come from?
At the age of 30, Grimes was working in corporate America. He was successful but not happy … something was pushing him out of the industry.
Grimes left his job and spent the next 20 years learning the ins and outs of horseback riding. His goal was to become a hippotherapy instructor, an individual who uses horseback riding to teach complex motor learning. The job became a passion, but Grimes wanted to create an option for people with developmental disabilities so severe they could not participate in the hippotherapy sessions.
Before the nonprofit was created in 2016, the HUB was a karting program dubbed, Prescribed Power. Karting is a type of motorsport done in a variety of four-wheeled vehicles. These karts are built tough for off-roading, equipped with a strong roll cage and reinforced safety measures.
Prescribed Power was designed to teach people with developmental disabilities social skills, confidence, strength, and stamina through driving. 3D printing is used to create innovative parts to adapt the kart to accommodate different needs. Once karting gained some steam, the printing program wasn’t far behind.
The 3DSE program has only been active since January 2021. Since then, there have been two graduates, with two more graduating in June 2021.
Current student, Alyssa Day, can already see the impact this program will have on her life. “I’ve literally learned this faster than I have learned any other material,” said Day. “Coming here and being able to pick this up just within a few days … it was surprising to me because, like, I cannot remember anything. But when I come back, it is like muscle memory. It is automatic.”
The HUB is now a two-part business with equal parts karting and 3D printing. With this model going forward, the future of self-employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities is bright. For more information on the 3DSE program or karting availability, visit the Hub’s official website.
Technology can help serve a larger purpose in the lives of people with developmental disabilities. Under Ohio’s Technology First initiative, DODD is working with county boards of developmental disabilities to try and include technology in each service and support plan for people with disabilities. This initiative is focused on helping people learn more about how to use technology and the improvements it can bring to their quality of life.
Need additional resources to promote and support the hiring of people with developmental disabilities? Visit DODD’s employment first page.