Jen Swanson, an occupational therapist at Fairview-Southdale Hospital, is always looking for ways to help her patients become more independent.
When she noticed one of her recovering stroke patients, Alex, struggle to use a cutting board, she knew she needed to find a special board that would allow him to continue making his own meals.
“He has to do everything one-handed, but quality single-handed cutting boards are very expensive, “Swanson said.
In the midst of the dilemma, Alex came forward and suggested a local Boy Scout could create the cutting board as a part of a community service project.
Swanson turned to local Boy Scout troops, searching for someone who could take on the project.
Fortunately, Will Kerwin, an Edina Boy Scout, needed a project to achieve his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout.
“It was perfect timing,” Kerwin said, “I liked the originality of the project and just fell in love with it.”
Improving the design
When Swanson first approached Kerwin’s Boy Scout Troop in January, Kerwin said he felt some trepidation about taking on a unique and challenging project.
“A lot of kids just do food drives, this project required a lot of wood work – precise woodwork,” Kerwin said.
Kerwin enlisted the help of one of his former scout masters, who had a wood working shop in his basement. The scout master worked with him on the project through its completion.
Kerwin fashioned the new cutting board out of high-quality maple wood, then inserted two stainless steel spokes that can hold food in place for users while they cut with their able hand. He finished the board off with beeswax to “keep it looking good.”
“It was such a relief to finally finish it and see the benefit it could possibly have for people,” he said.
A Unique Benefit
Kerwin, along with five other scouts, made 24 cutting boards and donated them to Fairview’s Edina Clinic. The supply could easily last four years, Kerwin said.
Swanson said she plans to share the boards throughout the Fairview System.
“It wouldn’t be right for me to keep them all in Edina, I want to share the wealth and show people the amazing, detailed work that Will put into this project,” she said,
For Kerwin, the highlight of the project came when he finally saw Alex test out his new design in July.
“It warmed me inside,” he said. “It was really cool to see how useful the board was and how it could be such a unique benefit to people in the community.”