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Student Creates Pen for Visually Impaired Children

Albert Westpfal, a fourth-grader at John F. Kennedy Elementary School, created a yarn pen for his TREPS Marketplace project.

Most young students would be happy just to receive a good grade for a project.

Albert Westpfal isn’t like most kids.

Westpfal, a fourth grade student at , created what he calls a yarn pen for his TREPS Workshop project. TREPS is an annual event held at the elementary schools designed to teach students about entrepreneurship. Students have to create a new product, or modify an existing one, and sell it at a marketplace.

Westpfal designed the product to teach visually impaired children how to recognize and better identify shapes, letters, and words.

Westpfal got the idea from Make magazine. A small spool of yarn made from a paper clip and plastic cup is attached to the top of a hollowed out pen. Children use the yarn to “write” whatever they want on a homemade, sticky notepad. 

Westpfal later created dozens of the devices and donated them to the Concordia Learning Center at St. Joseph’s School for the Blind in Jersey City. Marketplace attendees could also purchase a pen to be donated to the hospital.

“I’m glad that I could make something that helps other people,” Westpfal said.

Westpfal’s parents said that he is a very independent young man.

“He really enjoys creating things and taking things apart,” Westpfal’s mother Margaret said. “He’s always had a great imagination. This was a really good experience for him.”

The fact that Westpfal took an idea, made it his own, and then used it to help others is what makes Margaret so proud.

“He realized that it was a win-win situation,” Margaret said. “Whether he made money on it or not, in the end, he was able to help children with something he created. And that’s what matters most.”

Westpfal sold the pens at his school’s marketplace last month for $2. The pens cost him 76 cents to manufacture. He even “hired” his parents to work for him.

Westpfal went to St. Joseph’s recently to demonstrate how the device works. He met with kids and showed them how to use it.

“We’re so happy that Albert created this device,” said Ellen Felicetta, director of development for St. Joseph’s. “It was amazing to see him work with the children. He’s a very smart young man and we were thrilled that he wanted to help others with this project.”

And Westpfal isn’t done. He wants to improve the design and use sturdier materials that won’t break as easy as the paper clips and pens do. He also might patient the device.

“He used it to help others and that’s amazing,” she said. “Most other kids created something with food or took a product and modified it, but this was so labor intensive. But he really wanted to do it.”

Annette pabon April 01, 2012 at 10:45 AM
Albert I am so proud of you!!! I can't wait to share your story with miss Megan..
Suzanne farulla April 01, 2012 at 06:41 PM
We are so proud of you Albert! Great job! Cole said Hey I want one of those pens! He saw it at Treps but forgot to go back to you:)). The Farulla's:)
Stephen Meawad April 01, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Albert, all of us from church are so proud of you! You are a wonderful son of God, and you have such a bright future ahead of you. Keep up the good work! God bless
swanneck April 01, 2012 at 08:15 PM
congratulation on your design from another pen designer swanneck pen
KDOJO MMA April 01, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Great job Albert! You make all of us at K-Dojo Mixed Martial Arts very proud of you!
Sandy Salama April 01, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Congratulations Albert , really a Great Job so proud of you :)
Justine April 01, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Hi Albert! It's Justine A.D. from school! I am excited and happy for you! I know you worked hard at TREP$ and I'm sure that everyone no doubt about it loved your product! I definitely did! Thank you for helping disabled children.
Jim Benson April 01, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Way to Do Your Best, Albert! Good job.
Albert Westpfal April 02, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Thank you all for your comments and supporting me on my project.
Antoinette Naoum April 02, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Hi Albert, I am not surprised because I know how smart and dedicated you are, I am so proud of your invention not because it is creative but because your intention was to help others. Job well done and God Bless you always!!!
His Nibs April 02, 2012 at 01:31 AM
What a ****wonderful***** idea Albert! I've shared this with all of my fountain pen followers on Facebook. Regards, Norman
Nathan kalupa April 02, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Hey Albert, I am very happy and fortunate enough to have you as a student. The contributions you are making to help others is fantastic. This shows your true nature and intentions in becoming a helpful and thoughtful neighbor in your community. Thank you for helping the many that will greatly benefit from your imagination, consideration, and creation. See you in class Instructor Nathan
reda fahmy April 02, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Albert, l.m very proud of you. Uncle reda
Nader Boulos April 02, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Good job Albert. Very proud of you! Keep up the good work! - Nader
fboy1932 April 02, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Congrats!!! where all proud of you!
Caroline Helmy April 02, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Albert Congratulations on your creative mind and being a leader to think outside the box to help others! What a great recognition! We're very proud of you Caroline Helmy
Genevieve Boulos April 02, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Great job Albert & congrats on your success! I'm sure this is just the beginning of the bright future ahead of you. Jeanie
John Forsatz April 02, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Way to go Albert!!! I see an Engineer in Training! The best part is that you are helping others!!!!
Nermin Attia April 02, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Great job, Albert! You have a bright future ahead if you. God bless!
David Yousef April 03, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Congrats Albert! It's really great to see you using your talents to help out others. We're so proud of you! God Bless.
Mike Fahmy April 06, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Great job Albert. Im so proud of you.
Karen M April 16, 2012 at 11:06 PM
You were very determined and it paid off. Not just for your TREP$ success, but mostly for all of your customers and the recipients of your fantastic product. The TREP$ committee thanks you for making JFK's Marketplace the best it could be!

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