As the son of two doctors, it was early on in the novel coronavirus pandemic that 10-year-old Cub Scout Aidan McReelis (13th Whitby) understood the risks posed to front-line workers. Driven to help his parents and his community, Aidan embarked on a remarkable mission to build and distribute protective face shields.
Since the beginning of his endeavour, Aidan and his family have created and donated 100 face shields to hospitals and long-term care homes in the Whitby-Peterborough area—including the home in Cobourg where his great-grandmother lived.
“[That] was special to Aidan,” Julie, Aidan’s mom, says.
She says that the face shields “work better than any of the ones they already had in the hospitals. What’s nice about them is they’re not right at your face. There’s space between the acetate and your face.”
Before the project began, it was Aidan’s parents who first helped him identify a way that he could help keep them, and other front-line healthcare workers, safe. Since Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was suddenly in short supply due to the pandemic, it made good sense to Aidan to contribute equipment that could be made at home.
The family researched online to find out how to make protective face shields, then purchased a 3-D printer to create the specific and critical frame for the acetate face shield. After some trial and error—including returning the first 3-D printer the family purchased in favour of a model that Aidan says “actually works” for the project—the McReelis family was able to iron out the manufacturing process.
Each frame takes two and half hours to print (four can be printed on a good day), and the printing process is carefully monitored by Aidan, his older brother Nolan and their parents. The family adds weather stripping to the headband to cushion where the plastic comes in contact with the wearer’s head, as well as a taped elastic to help secure the mask on the wearer. Finally, clear acetate sheets are punched by hand so that they can be attached to the 3-D printed frame. Aidan estimates it takes about three hours to assemble 20 face shields.
“They really like them,” Aidan says of the response he’s received from the medical professionals who need to wear them—including Aidan’s dad, Kylen, and others at his practice.
In a case of actions speaking volumes, it was particularly rewarding for Aidan to be met by medical workers at the hospital in Whitby wearing face shields he made “when I dropped the second batch off.”
Stories like Aidan’s are a reminder that the world needs Scouting and young leaders like Aidan, more than ever before.
To discover ways that you can help others in your community while maintaining physical distance, visit Scouts.ca/GetInvolved.