Unleash Innovation Lab

Designing for wheelchair bound children in Favelas.  

A global perspective on design and teamwork.

Transforming one of my most challenging teamwork experiences into a  personal success by facilitating multidisciplinary communication and collaboration. 

Unleash is a global annual conference sponsored by Deloitte, Dalberg amongst others to promote collaboration between cultures and expertises in tackling some of the worlds most pressing challenges. 

I applied to Unleash to work on the Good Health and Well-Being Sustainable Development Goal and was granted a scholarship to attend.

Our group decided to work on low-cost mobility solutions: specifically, how to help wheelchair-bound children safely explore the outside world in low-income neighborhoods where uneven roads and crumbling infrastructure make it difficult for them to leave the house.

An urban beekeeper, a women's rights activist and a blockchain expert were just a few of the amazing people I had the honor of meeting at the Unleash Conference in Singapore.

Unleash brings together talents from a diverse array of backgrounds and expertise united in addressing the world's most pressing issues and ensuring sustainable and

inclusive development.

Why was this experience challenging?

This was one of the most diverse group I had ever worked with bringing together distinct professional educational and cultural backgrounds.  

 

It is my belief that each profession and culture “speaks” its own language. Bringing all of these different perspectives to the same “language page” is no easy task and, in my opinion, is the reason why so many multidisciplinary projects fail. Our work at unleash seemed bound in the same direction but, by drawing on my previous work consulting and collaborating with diverse teams, we were able to revert this situation into an ultimate success. 

 

In order to alleviate this tension and enhance communication, we decided that each person should suggest an area of work and together we would vote on what we would like to tackle as a group. Also, one practice that I enjoy and have had significant success with is letting each group member list activities they enjoy/ are strong at and those that they don’t enjoy. That way, we can organize and distribute our to-dos in ways that maximize overall happiness.

Our group included a Chilean doctor, an Indonesian practitioner and a chemical engineer, a Singaporean audiologist and me.

Children who are wheelchair bound rely on a number of neighbors and family to go anywhere.

As a result, disabled children often drop out of school and are 4 times more likely to be illiterate.

In the above video, Gabriel Fiuza relies on three men to carry him from his home to an ambulance.

Proposed designs

Jóya, our proposed design, allows children to leave the house with a single caregiver. The design takes into account the context of steep stairs and uneven roads.

Throughout the design process, we had to defend our ideas to industry experts who would evaluate the proposed solutions acording to their innovation, relevance, scalability and sustainability.

 

The Unleash experience taught me a lot about innovation techniques, technology, and the power of interdisciplinary problem-solving. In addition to being an amazing innovation opportunity, I learned much from the rich cultural exchange. 

I believe that a good leader is not one who necessarily spearheads a group, but rather one who knows the people they are working with and gives each of them the space they need to reach their full potential. 

More about unleash an other interesting links: 

https://unleash.org/

https://unleash.org/news/winners-sdg-3-good-health-well/