Shalini Kumari, a resident of Patna, is one of the 14 persons including innovators, writers and artists who are currently living as guests of the President in the Rashtrapati Bhavan as part of a two-week In-Residence Programme.
Shalini said the idea came to her mind when she saw her grandfather struggle while climbing stairs as traditional walkers were not apt for walking on an uneven surface.
“It is really difficult and sometimes impossible for the elderly, differently-abled persons or those recuperating from lower limb problems to climb up or down the stairs using conventional four-leg walkers,” she said.
Shalini observed that the four-leg walkers were not flexible enough to provide support for climbing stairs, and providing flexibility to them was the key.
“My grandfather enjoyed walking on the terrace, but found it difficult to walk up the stairs. It was then I decided to prepare a modified walker with adjustable legs,” Shalini said.
Shalini sent her proposal to make modified adjustable walkers to the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology set up to provide institutional support to innovators, and her idea was appreciated by officials who assured her all possible help in making her dream project a reality.
The walker with spring-loaded, self-locking front legs was finally prepared with the help of NIF, she said.
She has won a number of awards for her innovtion including IGNITE award of the National Innovation Foundation (NIF).
The modified walker, which costs nearly Rs 3,000, has an innovative self-locking mechanism through which front legs of walker can be raised while climbing up stairs and lowered while climbing down, Shalini said.
“It is very stable, light weight, adjustable to all sizes of stairs and can also be used while walking on inclined surface. This walker is useful for children, elderly people and specially abled persons,” Shalini said.
An ergonomically designed product, the walker weighs four kg. It can be used regardless of a person’s height and weight.
She hoped the product would soon be available in the markets as a number of companies are showing interest in her innovation.
The participants of the In-Residence Programme said they were deeply thankful to the President as they got an opportunity to interact with prominent people, including ministers.
“It has been an amazing experience living here at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. I met President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday with the group. I feel encouraged and motivated after meeting him,” she said.
The group includes artists Dheeraj Yadav and Rahul Shailendra Kokate, writers Dr Ashokkumar P Chavda and Prabal Kumar Basu, and innovators Surjeet Singh, Moa Subong, Girish Badragond, Mansukhabhai Prajapati, Subhash Ola, Paresh Panchal, Santosh Pachar, Ajay Kumar Sharma, Shalini Kumari and Akash Manoj.
They said that they were infused with fresh energy and enthusiasm after meeting the President and were determined to contribute to the welfare of the society in their own way.