High School Students Build Bus Stop Shelter for Boy Who Uses Wheelchair

A group of Rhode Island high school students came together to build a bus stop shelter for a 5-year-old boy who uses a wheelchair.

Every morning, 5-year-old Ryder Kilam from Westerly, Rhode Island heads outside to wait for the bus to pick him up and take him to Dunn’s Corners Elementary School. However, Ryder cannot walk. Each morning, Ryder’s parents push him in a wheelchair to the end of their driveway.

“With Ryder being in a wheelchair, unfortunately, it’s about 75 feet from our house to the bus,” said Ryder’s dad, Tim Kilam. “He’s not the typical child that runs out when the bus comes.”

The Kilam family initially put together a homemade shelter for Ryder to sit under while he waited for the bus. “We ended up having an old patio umbrella standing out here to keep him dry but with the wind blowing and stuff it just didn’t work,” said Kilam. “So we decided to reach out to the community, we actually put a post on Facebook looking for friends that may be new somebody that had one that they were no longer using.”

The request made it to the Construction Technology class at Westerly High School, where Dan McKena has been teaching for 27 years. “I think my first email was, absolutely we’re in,” said McKena. “We’ve done other projects before. I think it’s very important for my students to learn not only the aspects of construction but of being involved in the community dealing with people outside of the school environment.”

Three classes worked together on the project for weeks, and senior Mason Heald even decided to make it his senior project. “It was a learning stretch for me. I’ve never really done anything like that,” said Heald. “I watched videos on how studs make things hollow. I didn’t really know too much about what I was doing.”

Home Depot donated about $300 worth of wood, and the Kilam family purchased the rest.

The class included one of Ryder’s older brothers, who made sure the shelter was ADA accessible so that someone would be able to accompany Ryder comfortably.

“They all worked together for a common goal and they really enjoyed knowing the end result and knowing where it’s going,” McKena said. “On days when it might’ve been like, ‘I don’t feel like working’ or whatever it may be, they just come in eager, ready to get going and get to work.

“The family sent me a photo of Ryder in the bus stop and his grin, his smile, I think my response to that email was just, ‘priceless.’ Said McKena. “That one photo that the family sent me made it all worth it and I shared it with the students that were involved in the construction.”

“It definitely made it extra special. I was really happy to help my community of sorts and it was pretty cool to do something like that because it’s not just a shed I’m helping out somebody in need and it’s just nice,” said Heald. “We all worked pretty closely together, and all communicated pretty well.”

Image source: KLEW TV