PAL stands for Portable Academic Lapdesk. “PAL was born out of years of working in Malawi and Zambia and seeing the dire needs of the schools there,” PAL Non-Profit founder Jackie Wells said. “In 2009 we developed the idea of making a lap desk that contained all the basics of education on either side of the lap desk. This would give the students both a desk to work from and basically a visual textbook.”
It took Joel and Jackie Wells several years to develop their non-profit organization, design and copyright the lap desk, get a design patent, and try different prototypes. During the prototype process, Jackie contacted Signs for Success to see what they could come up with. “John was willing to think outside the box and came up with the idea of printing directly onto Aluminum Composite. By laminating over the printing we are providing extra protection as well as UV protection,” Jackie said.
Aluminum Composite Material
Aluminum composite is made of two sheets of thin aluminum with a solid polyethylene core. It is outdoor durable, heat resistant and water proof. Lamination increases the life of the print and further protects from UV rays and normal wear and tear.
Signs for Success designer Vanessa Bogensberger helped with setup and corrections to provided art files. Running test prints for the double sided printing took some time and tweaking to get it just right, but with approval from the customer, hundreds of these unique lap desks went to production. Finally, in June 2014, after much preparation and determination, Joel and Jackie completed the production and distribution of 550 PALs throughout African countries Malawi and Zambia.
Lap desks Get Enthusiastic Response
The distribution to village schools included teacher training. They’ve since heard back from several teachers about the success of the lap desks. One teacher wrote, “By seeing the PAL some of our older learners are self-correcting things they had learned wrong.” Another wrote, “teaching becomes simple to me because learners participate actively using these PALs.”
In a letter of endorsement from the Director of Basic Education in Malawi, Dr. Chimombo states, “The PAL gains the attention of our students with its bright and colorful presentation and gives them a global perspective. Many of our schools have limited supplies. If we can establish the distribution of this tool into these schools the PAL will provide them with a much needed resource. The teacher’s manual that accompanies the PAL will provide great support to instructors.”
Joel and Jackie are in the midst of a RocketHub social media campaign that will last until April 15 to raise funds to take 600 more PALs into Africa in September 2015.