A STEM Activity that teaches Empathy as well as science

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 classroom, 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 work, your classmates, your teammates, and community. With a focus on others, it’s remarkable how much we learn about ourselves.

These 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students show the world that they are capable of using their hands and their hearts to make an impact on a global scale! This STEM activity has multiple learning outcomes that are sure to change the way YOUR students think about helping their local and global community. “There is no class on campus that teaches EMPATHY, Helping Hands Live helps our students learn this concept” - Sean Wilson - Teacher at Olive View Elementary


Pre-build video used in programs. Lain Hensley, Co-Founder of Odyssey teams speaks to the value of Helping Hands.

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--Rockwell Collins hosted some very excited eighth graders today.As part of National Engineers Week more than 90 girls from corridor schools came to learn about engineering as well as participate in a hands-on activity.

Speaks to the medical concept of the hand and shows the fitting of the hands on thankful amputees. 

Learn a little about the history of the helping hands program. 

'Helping Hands' was fully initiated, fundraised and facilitated by the 'Beyond Ormond Borders' student-leaders. 

Watch one of the many news stories about Helping Hands. The Control Group team built prosthetic hands for amputees in developing countries in our most recent charitable event. Here our Director of Project Management, Sean Shahrokhi, discusses the event with Brad Perry from KUSI news.

For more links to Helping Hands videos and news stories go to Odyssey Teams. 

Purchase one of our Do It Yourself Build a Hand Kits

We have now made these kits available for you to facilitate in your classroom, for your service project, or for your mission trip. Complete with a supportive Facilitator Guidebook, we will ensure that you and your organization are set up for success in delivering a life changing experience. The DIY kit also includes a flash drive with pre and post program videos as well as notes from previously facilitated programs.

Take a look at how easy it is to facilitate this program in our Facilitator Guidebook .

The why of our work: Helping hands

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.


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.



We will help you identify the specific goals and 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 values and individual behaviors as identified (see above). Collaboration, engagement, and purpose-driven work 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 theAwareness 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 effort, and the value of 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, 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 roles 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