Helping Hands™ is the award-winning project that is putting prosthetic hands on amputees in developing countries while building purpose-driven teams and leaders. Helping Hands is about changing lives. It’s about accessing the potential of your heads, hands, and hearts to build a better team, a better organization and a better world. Now, you are able to help in the funding and building of LN-4 prosthetic hands needed by tens of thousands of people in developing countries around the world. Together, we will provide these life-changing gifts at no cost to the recipients. The process has been crafted to teach collaboration, commitment and quality – born from a deeper sense of connection to your products, your colleagues, your customers, and community. With a focus on others it’s remarkable how much we learn about ourselves.
We will help you identify the specific business goals and organizational values that Helping Hands ‘Live’ will deliver upon. This is done in a pre-program call between Odyssey Teams’ Lead Facilitator and key meeting stakeholders/organizers from your team.
At the program:
Phase I – Opening/Introduction: Designed to set a powerful context for participation, engagement, and application related to the specific organizational values and individual behaviors as identified (see above). Collaboration, engagement, purpose-driven work, and customer mindfulness are a few of the underpinnings for success the Helping Hands ‘Live’ program is about.
Phase II – Benchmark activities and the ART of improvement. ART™ is the Awareness of Reflexive Tendencies and is used to identify default (reflexive) strengths and places for improvement while under pressure. Participants are given a series of brief challenges to determine areas requiring a more deliberate approach to balance results, relationships, and process. These are out-of-your-seat activities and discussions that prepare them to deliver on-time, with quality and a deeper sense of purpose.
Phase III – Practicing world-class performance: Up until this point, they do not know what their project will be. We recommend keeping it a surprise in order to ‘catch’ them in a more organic state. We show the Pre-Build Video (see video on this page) to describe their ‘business simulation’ or ‘project.’ At this point, they understand the value of the project, the value of their time, and the value of your organizations commitment to doing something REALLY good. At a ratio of three participants to one hand, the entire group is given the over-arching challenge to:
- Build ALL the hands in the room by X-time
- Design the carrying case the hand goes in with color and creativity
- DELIBERATELY practice and demonstrate the virtues and lessons derived in the beginning of the program
- Take photo of your build team with your finished hand that will be emailed, printed and inserted into the carrying case with the finished hand and given to the recipient
Phase IV – Debrief/Transference: At the conclusion of above, the Post Build Video is played (See video this page). This creates a powerful emotion and connection to what they have done, and how and WHY they have done it. The Lead Facilitator then asks them to connect these with who they are, what they do, and where they are going. Concepts such as collaboration, customer-mindfulness, quality, sense of purpose, etc. are brought up and galvanized in this final discussion/debrief. This is the most powerful part of the program/process.
Phase V – Transference into work roles/functions for long-term results. The final ‘debrief’ creates a new paradigm of what is possible through specific actions and commitments made by attendees.
Phase VI – Tipping Points™ – Tipping Points are original quotes and lessons authored by the attendees at the end of the program and are fed back to the entire group over a period of time for enhanced program benefits/shelf life.
Phase VII – Close
Industrial designer Ernie Meadows and his wife, Marj, lost their daughter, Ellen, to an automobile accident when she was 18 years old. In the wake of the tragedy, Ernie decided to create a legacy to their daughter’s memory.
Originally Ernie intended to design a functional prosthetic hand for children and adolescent land mine victims. Over time he developed a design for a low-cost, light, durable, and functional prosthetic hand. He knew that this would help those in need of a prosthetic hand, but unable to afford the available alternatives.
The LN-4 prosthetic hand is used by people injured by landmines, work accidents, electricity, acts of violence, or a congenital condition. The LN-4 hand is in the Smithsonian museum for its invention and innovation.
In 2008, Lain Hensley of Odyssey Teams was leading annual leadership retreats for high school leadership students sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Northern California. Club members and friends of Ernie shared the LN-4 story with Lain. He fell in love with this project and the rest of us fell right along with him soon after. Lain told Ernie that “we know how to get these hands on people” and described how we had created the Life Cycles program where our corporate clients had built over 10,000 bicycles for children in need all over the world. Immediately, we began designing the Helping Hands program as a business simulation to draw upon lessons related to collaboration, quality, and customer mindfulness. Within a few years, we had funded and built over 10,000 hands through the Helping Hands program. In 2012, Odyssey Teams unveiled the Build-a-Hand Teambuilding Kit to help companies deliver in-house roll-out programs and provide to alliance partners and resellers with a Do-It-Yourself option.
Half-way through the first time I assembled a LN-4 hand, a huge realization hit me. It dawned on me that I was using my hands to create something for someone who does not have a hand – a simple fact that I had forgotten while in the ‘doing’ of the assembly. From this moment on, my attention, compassion, and care for what I was doing was significantly amplified. This feeling continues to permeate in all of the little things I do each day in Odyssey; such as, writing a Helping Hands proposal, packing supplies for a program etc. For the past 3 years when facilitating Helping Hands sessions, I’m always on the lookout to notice people and when/if they have a realization similar to mine. In the midst of the fun, engagement, and learning people always leave our sessions feeling more connected and aligned as a team and ambitious for what’s next – in the Helping Hands session it seems they also leave with a profound sense of gratitude and humility – I like that.
Todd Demorest, Lead Facilitator,
Odyssey Teams, Inc.
Sunrise New Segment - Australia
Cox Enterprises Helping Hands program
Odyssey Czech Republic
Market Wired - Canada
Instructional Video on how to fit an LN-4 Hand on recipient
Helping Hands-Post Build Video
As for the main benefits/take-aways, it’s hard to narrow it down to a few. Of course there were huge ‘Aha’s” for the group with regard to thinking outside the box and creativity. But there was also a vastly increased level of team cohesiveness. We really had an opportunity to know each other better and to have some fun together in a way that increases our commitment to work together effectively. But the biggest payoff of all was the combined feeling of having accomplished something with such an impact to people around the world. Knowing that we actually made a significant positive difference in the lives of people who so badly need it, was astonishing!
-Jean E. Deering, AVP Learning and Development Manager
Wells Fargo Bank
Please contact Odyssey’s regional partner:
How much time does it take?
If you want a transformational experience count on three hours. See ‘Helping Hands process’ for details. If you have less time, not to worry, you can still build and donate the hands in as little as 1.5 hours.
What is the difference between Helping Hands ‘Live’ and the Build-a-Hand Teambuilding kit? The former is a turn-key program, expertly facilitated by Odyssey Teams, the latter is a do-it-yourself kit that includes everything you’ll need to facilitate on your own.
Should we keep the building of the hands a surprise for the attendees? Yes. It is not required but recommended. This allows us to use the process more powerfully as a business simulation.
How much space is needed? Enough to fit your guests in chairs and tables.
What else is needed for room set-up? Projector/Screen for PowerPoint, Sound, Lavalier Microphone for groups over 50. Handheld microphone(s) for groups over 50 for report-outs. A program summary/logistics document will be sent and reviewed with one of our Senior Logistics Coordinators.
How many hands will we build? The ratio we use and recommend is one hand for every three participants. If tables are set for six people, we put out supplies for two hands. A table of nine will have three, etc. Since one of the over-arching goals is to promote collaboration, the objective is normally set to operate as ONE TEAM, which includes EVERYONE in the room. To this extent, they may look at processes to build ALL the hands in the room with a variety of configurations, people moving, helping, etc.
Where do the hands go? Following your program, the hands are shipped back to our headquarters for another quality test/check. When complete, they are sent to the Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand foundation for distribution. The hands are sent to countries where residents do not have access to prosthetic devices. As of June, 2014, the hands have been distributed to over 70 countries.
Do we know who will receive our hand? At this time, we cannot track individual hands to recipients and provide information back to their makers. However, we ask people doing the fittings to take a photo, gather information and send it back to us. These photos are making their way to the photo gallery of recipients on this web page. There IS a possibility, though remote, that you might recognize the carrying case you designed being held by a recipient in the gallery.
Do you provide the Helping Hands program to youth groups and other non-profits at a discounted rate? Absolutely. Please inquire.
Can I make a donation? By all means. Your donation will go directly to the Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation (5013c) and help fund new design and distribution efforts.
Discover the power of Helping Hands
Four ways to participate in the Helping Hands project
When you donate to the Helping Hands project you are enabling the distribution of hands around the world and supporting the mission of providing LN-4 prosthetic hands at no cost to recipients.
We are currently working on an online donation. In the meantime, please make checks payable to The Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation and send to:
Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation
c/o David Horn, Treasurer
1101 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
EMPHF is a 501c3 non profit entity
Interested in helping distribute the hands in developing countries? Know of agencies who can use/distribute the LN-4 hands? Please contact us to discuss options.