University of Akron students are helping Akron Rotary Camp kids with special needs experience canoeing more safely.

The 10-member College of Engineering’s Engineering Design Team designed and built an adaptable canoe seat that helps children with special needs to canoe despite their physical limitations. The team also developed outriggers to improve a canoe’s stability when attached and make the canoe hard to flip.

Akron Rotary Camp, in conjunction with the Akron Area YMCA, provides day camp, overnight and weekend programs for area children with disabilities at Rex Lake.

The University of Akron-designed canoe chair provides an adjustable reclined backrest, a center-mounted moving cushion between the campers’ legs, and two support straps.

The goal is to help users sit comfortably with additional support for their back, legs, waist, and torso.

The outriggers, meanwhile, increase the width and buoyancy of the canoe.

If an outrigger-equipped canoe does flip, the redesigned seat allows the physically unrestrained user to safely exit.

“This seat will allow any camper to participate in another activity that they otherwise would not be able to perform without directly being supported by a counselor,” project leader Garret Freund, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Wadsworth, said in a news release. “In other words, it’s helping those with physical disabilities or limitations to be more independent.”

The project has been in the making since fall 2017. Most of the materials were purchased through the team’s fundraising and donations by individual team members.

The student design team works to provide engineered solutions for nonprofit community organizations.