Disabled teen raises money for exoskeleton with Ebru art: ‘My dream is to learn to walk’

Valentin Shchanovich is determined to walk again. The 16-year-old, from St. Petersburg, Russia, has cerebral palsy, a condition that affects learning development and motor movements. 

Shchanovich has difficulty moving independently and uses a wheelchair. But his goal is to raise money for an exoskeleton and he has a pretty cool way to get there: selling handmade scarves. 

“Exoskeleton is a robot that will help me to quickly learn to walk. One can walk in it for four or six hours, approximately. [An] exoskeleton costs about 4 million Roubles (around $54,000 USD),” Shchanovich told the Associated Press. 

The teen uses an ancient technique called Ebru painting, also known as paper marbling, to create unique scarves. The word Ebru derives from the Turkish word “Ebri” which means air clouds. The process is when paints are suspended in water (or a special solution) to make ethereal, cloud-like patterns that are transferred onto a solid surface like paper or fabric. 

“Initially, only the sultans were making this art, because sultans had a lot of free time, and they were drawing artworks for their beloved women in this way,” Shchanovich said. 

The artist is hopeful about meeting his fundraising goal. He has already sold 400 scarves. 

Shchanovich made the decision to get an exoskeleton after using one during a rehabilitation session at the Institute of Pulmonology. After getting a taste of walking in the suit, he became determined. 

“My dream is to learn to walk as quickly as possible, and be free, walk in the city, run around with girls on the beach and anywhere at all and any time at all,” he said.

If you enjoyed this story, check out this article on how Zach and Pat are showing TikTok what it’s like to live with Down syndrome.

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