Assistive Technology Catalyst Project
with IDEAS and BethanyKids

Facilitating wheelchair services through faith-based hospitals in low-resource countries.

In many cultures, families and individuals dealing with disability are thought to be cursed. Some think a child is disabled because of shameful family behavior. They are left feeling ashamed, isolated and rejected. When disabled children grow too large to be carried, they are frequently left on the floor in a back room or sent out to beg on the streets.

Jesus offers an entirely different perspective. "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)

At LeTourneau University, Karen led the Wheels research project that developed and validated a set of research tools to determine how well wheelchairs work in low-resource settings. Because of this research, Karen was invited to international committees and became familiar with resources and training for appropriate assistive technology provision.

A catalyst brings together different initiatives that in themselves may not have connected, but which have great potential to work together. Karen grew up in Kenya and is familiar with networks of mission hospitals. A series of articles in Lancet in 2015 estimated that, in many African countries, faith-based health initiatives provide more than half of the medical care. These hospitals have a great record of sharing healthcare, and if they have the resources, would be able to scale up to provide appropriate whole person care to those with disabilities.

Working with IDEAS and BethanyKids, Karen and Phil started the Assistive Technology Catalyst Project. Phil’s skill as a videographer and photographer has been a key part of this endeavor. Their goal is to link resources for appropriate wheelchair provision and whole person care with faith-based hospitals. The end goal is that children with mobility challenges and their families will receive help that will heal physical and spiritual pain, and open doors for all to become active members of community life.

AT Catalyst


Ideas WorldBethany Kids