A Project with a Purpose

By Bonnie Wannett, Chantilly Academy
February 19, 2020

As a brand new fourth-grader excited to play a strings instrument, Ayan a student at Greenbriar West Elementary was determined to not let anything get in his way of playing the viola this year.  However, Ayan needed some assistance with holding the viola bow, but it still didn't stop his determination.  Greenbriar West Occupational Therapist Ms. Short soon contacted sponsor of one of the robotics teams here at Chantilly HS Academy.  Very quickly, Mr. Ron Baer (team coach) realized that he had the perfect student to assist in making this happen for Ayan.  

Chantilly High School senior, Tony Spinetta was very excited to be a part of the project.  The mission was to design an assistive device to fit Ayan's arm so that he was able to fully grasp the viola bow.  Tony met with Ms. Short and Strings' teacher, Ms. Belasik to plan out what the device could look like and soon after, Tony and Ayan met and connected.  Tony relied on his CAD skills learned in his Tech Drawing class. He thanks Ms. Chudovan for all her support as his teacher.  The final device was 3-D printed in red (Ayan's favorite color) along with his name printed on the piece.  The entire process began in October and Ayan was playing the viola proudly at the winter concert at the end of January.

Ms. Belasik kept Ayan’s parents updated throughout the process and they were thrilled that everyone was coming together to help their son.  They were very appreciative and supportive and noticed so much joy in Ayan while he practiced his viola. 

"Tony is an incredible person, whose passion for helping others was obvious throughout this entire process,"  said Ms. Belasik. " The amount of effort and time that went into the design and the many trial pieces was above and beyond and I couldn’t be more thankful and appreciative to have had Tony working on this project alongside Ayan and myself.  Ayan is an amazing student, with an obvious love for music and his viola. He has a smile on his face the entire strings class and practices a lot at home."

Ayan is incredibly thankful for everyone that encouraged him along the way. "I was playing Viola just like any other kid. I was very very happy as I wasn’t constrained anymore to play my favorite instrument due to my hand deformity," says Ayan after getting to play in his first concert. "It was one of the best moments of my life. I was very excited as I was playing the instrument of my choice with my small hand in front of a big audience including my parents, Tony and my teachers."