Jordan Reeves, 12, is a designer and disability advocate who is raising awareness about physical disabilities around the world. Jordan was born with a left arm that stopped growing just before the elbow. She helped her mom grow an online community that supports the limb difference community and Jordan’s more recent work guided that community into a nonprofit organization.
Jordan is working to make sure more kids with disabilities have a chance to use design as a career path. Design and every tenet of STEAM education can only improve opportunities for kids in the disability community.
After attending a design workshop for kids with physical differences, Jordan invented a concept for a glitter-shooting prosthetic arm that she named Project Unicorn. Her idea caught attention around the world and gave her a chance to speak up to encourage others to think differently about disability.
Jordan is a two-time TEDx speaker and has given talks to crowds large and small across the United States and Canada.
When Jordan was born, her parents didn’t know about limb differences – where a child is born with a differently formed limb or limbs. Since her mom was a journalist, she started a blog detailing the experience of raising a child with a physical disability. Through the years, Jordan pitched in to meet kids and share her story online and in person.
Jordan was always very active as a child. She danced, played baseball, basketball, and swam. She also worked with a prosthetist from a very young age. That helped her learn what she liked when it came to comfort and her body’s needs. Her participation in sports even caught the attention of an organization called Women’s Intersport Network. The organization awarded her with an “Inspiration Award” in 2013 when Jordan was seven years old. Her involvement in sports continues today. Her favorite activities are basketball, CrossFit, and cheerleading.
All of Jordan’s experiences turned into the perfect storm when she was invited to create a superhero persona and build something fun to add to her body in 2016. When given the opportunity, Jordan decided she wanted to be “Glitter Girl” and came up with a glitter-shooting prosthetic concept. As she worked with a design partner to create new iterations on the idea she named “Project Unicorn,” Jordan’s work caught the attention of many news outlets including Fast Company and Popular Science. Jordan had opportunities to present her invention to Maker Faire events, Health and Human Service maker health events, schools, scout meetings, and even lead to a Disney Parks Dream Big Princess Innovation Award. The interest in her Project Unicorn work grew even bigger after getting the chance to show off her design to the Shark Tank investors during an episode of The Rachael Ray Show in 2017.
With this growing awareness of her work, Jordan had a chance to speak at two different TEDx events and many other appearances across the country. She focuses on two major conversations: Kids should have a chance to see more physical disabilities represented in mainstream toys and designers should include disabled people from the beginning of a concept. That’s why she thinks it is important to give kids with disabilities more access to the power of design and STEAM skills earlier in their lives.
As Jordan grew her voice as a disability advocate and activist, she also launched a nonprofit with her mom. Born Just Right is an extension of what was once a blog and an online community. The organization focuses on creating learning opportunities so other kids with disabilities can learn about design and design thinking at an early age. Those design and STEAM skills have the chance to create new job paths as they grow older. Since starting the nonprofit, Born Just Right has created opportunities to bring kids together to learn about design skills through a program called Superhero Boost. The most recent event was held in San Francisco. Kids from that event are currently working on new concepts that may have as much success as Project Unicorn!
Jordan has had opportunities to consult major brands with her design insight and she’s spoken at the National AIGA Design conference and the Strategic Design Conference at Parsons Design School. She and her mom wrote a book together and will come out in Summer 2019 through Simon and Schuster’s Aladdin and Jeter Publishing imprints.
Awards and Recognition
|2013||Women’s Intersport Network Inspiration Award|
|2016||Change.org petition featured on CBSN and front page of Kansas City Star|
|2016||Project Unicorn work Featured in Fast Company article|
|2016||Disney Parks Dream Big Princess Innovator Award|
|2016||Speaker, MakerFaire Bay Area|
|2016||National Maker Faire Editor’s Choice Award|
|2016||Speaker/Presenter, National Health and Human Services Making Health Summit|
|2016||Awesome Without Boarders Prize Winner|
|2016||TOM:DC Makeathon for Assistive Technology “Need Maker”|
|2016||mHUB/Born Just Right Maker Meetup|
|2017||Speaker, National Kid Inventors Day at NYU School of Engineering|
|2017||Speaker, All Abilities Day, Concord Elementary School, St. Louis, MO|
|2017||Appearance with the Shark Tank on The Rachael Ray Show|
|2017||Featured on CNN.com|
|2017||Superhero Cyborgs – Boston workshop|
|2017||Change.org petition asking for American Girl limb difference representation hits 25,000 signatures|
|2017||Project Unicorn on display at EDIT: Expo for Design, Innovation + Technology, Toronto|
|2017||Feature in American Girl Magazine|
|2017||Born Just Right community meetup with Hallmark Master Artist|
|2017||Speaker, National AIGA Conference during the “Impact of Inclusion” Symposium|
|2017||Project Unicorn on display at Bespoke Bodies: The Design and Craft of Prosthetics, Portland, OR|
|2017||Speaker, TEDxYouth Blue Slide Park, Pittsburgh, PA|
|2018||Speaker, Helping Hands Winter Outing|
|2018||Born Just Right partners with colorFabb and BioGlitz|
|2018||Speaker, SXSW Interactive Festival|
|2018||Nominee, Iris Awards, Philanthropic Work of the Year|
|2018||Speaker, United State of Women Summit|
|2018||Speaker, Strategic Design Conference at Parsons Design School, NYC|
|2018||Superhero Boost Workshop, San Francisco, CA|
|2018||Delegate, We Vote Next Summit, Los Angeles, CA|