MTeam 2019 Jersey Reveal for the Best Buddies Challenge
It’s time for the MTeam’s Best Buddies Challenge 2019 jersey reveal!
We’ve been so excited to share the story behind a very special design this year.
You may remember that we donated a piece of technology called the Tobii PCEye Plus to the Bi-County Collaborative (BICO) program at King Phillip Middle in Norfolk, MA, where Meredith attends school. Meredith is the “M” in our MTeam, the heart of what we do and our Chief Motivating Officer.
Like 10-year-old Mer who is non-verbal, other students who attend the school have disabilities that make traditional modes of communication impossible. Eye movements are often the only movements that individuals with severe and profound disabilities can control voluntarily.
“Everybody deserves to be heard, and this revolutionary technology will provide a silent population the ability to communicate,” Mer’s dad Greg Lewis said.
Watch the video from launch day here:
This system truly is giving many of the students there the chance to communicate effectively for the first time ever, Mer included. It is innovative technology and the world’s first device that combines advanced eye tracking, switch and infrared control with speech recognition.
What does that mean practically?
“It is apparent connections are being made and pathways are developing,” Greg said. “Meredith’s vision and focus is so much better too. She actually greets us with her eyes when we see her. It's consistent.”
Mer is now able to ask for a glass of water when she is thirsty.
She has been able make other requests at school as well, recently asking to watch a cooking show. “This was especially notable because she had a major appetite that day,” Greg said.
And…she was able to use her eye movements to express her creativity and to paint the picture below:
We’re so thrilled for her as she continues to open new doors, gain confidence and hone her abilities. MTeam captain John Christian had an incredible idea for our jersey design this year: Mer’s wonderful artwork curves around the bottom half, vibrant proof of this newly life-changing ability to express her imagination freely.
This is our jersey design for 2019:
By incorporating Mer’s painting into our gear, we are celebrating her many accomplishments since we began the MTeam. We’re proud of how far she has come! Mer was born with FOXG1 Syndrome, a rare neuro-developmental disorder that impacts brain development and function. Those colors and patterns in her artwork are hers alone, and something she has never been able to share before. We hope that when others see the painting, it will spark curiosity and we’ll be able to talk with them about Mer’s story and why we do what we do.
John started the MTeam with just six people, to help make this world a more inclusive place for Mer and others with intellectual and developmental disabilities around the world. It has grown to nearly 60 members in just a few years.
This year we’re aiming to raise $250,000 for Best Buddies International. We need your help. We are still short of our goal by quite a lot. Your generous donations will allow us make a real impact. Please consider contributing to the amazing work this team is doing (donation link below). We appreciate it and there’s a huge community out there who will as well!
Mer’s dad Greg who is, of course, one of the original MTeamers, said, “The MTeam, BICO and Best Buddies are truly changing lives. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by such love and support. Over the course of this academic year, Meredith has made dramatic advancements in visual processing and communication. It has been a joy to watch our daughter develop so consistently and we look forward to her continued growth.”