Solidarity FabLabs: a community established thanks to the challenge

In 2017, the jury’s prize in our international Solidarity FabLabs challenge, #IMake4MyCity, was awarded to the Breakers FabLabs, comprising 5 FabLabs in 5 Spanish cities (Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona-Castelldefels, Bilbao). The jury was charmed by the collective dimension of the projects. What’s the latest on the Breakers community in Spain?
 

 

Birth of a new Breakers community in Spain

Thanks to the solidarity FabLabs challenge, 6 FabLabs were able to meet each other and establish strong bonds. Their collaborative sports-for-all project resulted in over 10 prototypes between September 2017 and December 2018. The aim was to combine the strengths of several young people trained in digital manufacturing in different Spanish cities, in order to create innovative solutions to improve access to sports and change perceptions of disability.


 
With the prize, the young participants continued developing projects with an impact on society, while at the same time developing their knowledge and establishing a community of Breakers to share it.

National gathering in Madrid

A national gathering was held in November 2017 for young Spanish breakers from different cities to come and share their experience and their knowledge. The Breakers community met up in Madrid for the Mini Maker Faire. 40 young people and their tutors came from all over Spain for this national young Breakers event.

Over two days, the youngsters took part in workshops and visited the Mini Maker Faire. They attended a conference and took part in activities relating to a variety of themes such as design, electronics and group work.
The young Breakers were also able to present their projects to the public at the Mini Maker Faire while, at the same time, discovering other inspirational initiatives.
This gathering also provided an opportunity to share ideas concerning their projects, their educational journeys and their digital manufacturing practices. The young Breakers also produced their own "Breakers" t-shirts as a souvenir of this friendly, rewarding event.
To maintain links between the young people from the different solidarity FabLabs, a weekly meeting was organised: the Breaker Club.
These meetings provide an opportunity for the 6 solidarity FabLabs in 5 different cities to coordinate their efforts and share their experience, their ideas, their projects and their knowledge.

Specific training for societal projects

With the prize, the solidarity FabLabs were also able to set up an additional workshop for those wanting to continue their projects, develop their prototype or create new projects with a positive impact on society.
This new 20-hour digital training model is called "Open Breakers". It was specifically organised for young people who devoted their time to this initiative and who wanted to move further into digital manufacturing while continuing to work on their projects.
This training is organised in very much the same was as "Breakers": the youngsters are supervised by their FabLab contact and they develop several societal projects in a collaborative environment; they are supported by the FabLab managers and their instructors.
The youngsters can choose between improving existing projects and developing new initiatives once they consider their prototypes to be functional and want to experiment, create new prototypes and meet new societal needs.
This new training programme has resulted in the improvement of a number of
prototypes. The Tinker Club at the Tinkeress FabLab, for example, organises weekly meetings with 4 or 5 challenge participants and other young Breakers in order to finish the "Tinkershine" prototype and continue the kayak project.
In Bilbao, the climbing wall project gradually evolved thanks to the participation of several young people. They worked on integrating interactivity into their climbing wall, adding light with electronic devices and creating various climbing paths by lighting them up.
Furthermore, the former Web Breakerslab platform has been improved to offer more activities and projects previously tested by the young Breakers.

Breakers’ achievements

The purpose of our international solidarity FabLabs challenge is to prove that with digital manufacturing and the new collaborative teaching method typical of FabLabs, all the youngsters, even those failing at school, can create, regain confidence, and envisage a new professional future. The projects demonstrate skills learned or encouraged in the FabLab: technical skills, inventiveness and teamwork.

 

For the challenge, the Breakers worked together to reinvent games and sports to make them more accessible for disabled people.
The traditional ‘toad in the hole’ game has been reinvented by young people in Spain by mixing digital manufacturing and craftsmanship to allow disabled people to take part.

In Castelldefels-Barcelona, both a new design and new materials from the FabLab have made several children’s games easier to use in the form of a games table.
In this same FabLab, the kayak rudder normally controlled by legs has been transformed by an electronic system.


 
In Valencia, the project involved transforming an amusement park into an accessible space for the elderly, those with physical or visual disabilities and children: garden trails, the adventures of Gulliver, entertainment, wheelchair courses, sports trails for the elderly... no one is left out!

Finally, in Bilbao, a climbing wall for the visually impaired was designed with interactive audible grips and indications in Braille.

Most of the projects were given to local social organisations such as charities, thus leading to the development of a local solidarity community.

 

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