By Jon Mitzmacher, Head of School, Ottawa Jewish Community School
In May, an Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS) parent and frontline healthcare professional, Dr. Joanne Tannebaum, came forward with an idea. A colleague of hers had worked out a design for 3D-printing face shields and “ear-savers” and she wanted to know if OJCS wanted to participate.
After an initial conversation to talk it through, OJCS brought in middle school science teacher Josh Ray, and decided that the most logical partnership for OJCS would be the Bess and Moe Greenberg Family Hillel Lodge, the community’s Jewish Home for the Aged. I reached out to Hillel Lodge CEO Ted Cohen and an enthusiastic partnership was born.
The next step was a meeting between the middle school, Tannenbaum and the leadership from Hillel Lodge to officially launch a project for producing PPE for Hillel Lodge’s frontline healthcare workers through OJCS’ 3D printer. During that meeting, students got a chance to hear firsthand about the importance of PPE and were given both a design challenge (How can we make face shields and surgical masks more comfortable?) and a practical challenge (How will we create, assemble and deliver the final product?).
Ray went ahead and safely retrieved the school’s 3D printer from the new OJCS Makerspace, gathered supplies, recruited student volunteers and the work began!
The easier of the two to produce is the ear-saver. This item helps anyone who has to wear a surgical mask or face shield relieve the pressure off their ears. You loop your mask on the appropriate notch and voilà – your ears are spared. This one is easily printed, comes in lots of colours, and our students have even managed to personally inscribe messages.
“For me, this project is so important for many reasons. It teaches students 21st century skills like 3D modeling, while connecting the importance of community and empathy at the same time,” said Ray. “I think everyone is always looking to serve, and give back wherever possible. The need for PPE in the community has provided both the students and I that opportunity. I’m so proud of the commitment and character shown from the group of students that volunteered their own time to get involved.”
The face shields were a little more complicated. Because the school has a smaller-sized 3D printer, it took some time, research and trial-and-error to find a program that prints plastic to hold a full-sized shield. But Ray and the team eventually figured it out!
The first delivery took place on Wednesday, June 17 and it was wonderful to have a couple of Grade 8 students – Talia C. and Jessica A. – join myself, Ray, Cohen, Lodge CFO Karin Bercovitch, and Morag Burch, director of nursing to commemorate the occasion.
“All long-term care homes, including the Bess and Moe Greenberg Family Hillel Lodge, have a critical responsibility to keep our residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Personal protective equipment such as face-shields and masks are vital to protecting our residents and staff during this pandemic,” said Cohen. “We are grateful for the strong partnership we have with the Ottawa Jewish Community School and for their assistance creating face-shields and masks extenders for our front-line workers. This innovative initiative is an educational experience for the students and provides our team with vital supplies. We are thankful for the assistance we’ve received and look forward to continuing to develop our partnership.”
The Grade 8 students who attended the delivery also expressed their enthusiasm for the project.
“It was such a meaningful experience for me to be able to help my community in a time of crisis. It always feels good to give back to the Jewish community, and be a part of something bigger,” said Talia.
Jessica added hers:
“Over the years, Hillel Lodge has provided me with so many life lessons and experiences that have enriched me as a person. Since kindergarten I have been involved with Hillel Lodge therefore, I wanted to give back to a place that has so much significance in my life,” added Jessica.
OJCS and Hillel Lodge hope that their next innovative collaboration will be inspired by health and joy.