The sled was built for St. Pierre so he could join his class on a winter hike just outside Nelson. Photo: Tyler Harper

VIDEO: B.C. students build special sled to get classmate into the Christmas spirit

Todd St. Pierre has mobility issues, but the sled helped him go on a class hike

When a class of Grade 6 students came to call the pre-holiday hike Operation Leave No One Behind, it was clear this would be no simple winter walk.

Chris Mieske’s class at Trafalgar Middle School in Nelson includes Todd St. Pierre, who was born with bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria, a genetic disorder that affects his mobility.

So if they were going to spend a day stomping through snow outside Nelson, they needed a solution for including Todd.

“Because he’s our classmate,” said student Koen de Jong. “Bringing him helps us learn about empathy.”

The answer was a sled, designed and built just for Todd. The students solicited local businesses for supplies and took about three weeks to complete the finished product.

Koen said building the sled meant learning all about Todd’s needs. Pool noodles, for example, were cut and added to the sides of the sled to pad his legs, which tend to lean out.

“When he gets upset or excited he throws his head back, so we needed to put some cushion on his head,” said Koen.

“We had to think about him going to the bathroom, him being able to have fun at the camp when we get there and we eventually came up with the idea to put people in life jackets, hook them up to the sled and pull it along and then have people in the back pushing or act as a break if you’re going downhill.”

Mieske said he wanted his students to learn that even though Todd can’t walk, he is still journeying through school with them.

“My big message to these students is Todd’s going to be walking across the stage at graduation with them in six years and I want them to feel like he’s been part of their education and I want him to feel like he’s been part of the bigger group,” he said.

“Just because he’s got difficulties with moving around and he has difficulties communicating, he’s still one of them and they need to see he is an equal to them in our school.”

When the class travelled to the Nelson Nordic Ski Club’s Clearwater trail on Dec. 19, four students put on snow shoes and attached themselves to the sled before Todd was carefully, and happily, lowered in.

Some classmates cheered, others high-fived Todd, and when it came time to hike all 27 students marched into the woods together without anyone left behind.

Related:

The gift of getting around

Wheelchair accessible van a gift to Nelson family in need

Rosemont Elementary celebrates renewed playground



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Teacher Chris Mieske helps Todd St. Pierre get settled in the sled. Photo: Tyler Harper

St. Pierre’s sled was powered by an eager team of buddies. Photo: Tyler Harper

Trafalgar Middle School’s Todd St. Pierre gets strapped into a special sled built for him by his fellow Grade 6 students for a winter hike. Photo: Tyler Harper

Just Posted

VIDEO: Community generosity helps Courtenay Elementary school replace stolen bikes

Community compassion, coupled with school connections, helped Courtenay Elementary restock its inventory… Continue reading

Comox Valley gives back

Comox Valley businesses, organizations and individuals helping improve the lives of others

Comox Valley playgrounds, outdoor fitness stations now open

School District 71 and Comox Valley local governments have reopened outdoor playgrounds… Continue reading

City of Courtenay outlines changes to property tax payment options due to COVID-19

Courtenay property tax notices were mailed on May 27-28, and will be… Continue reading

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Summer tubing ban on Cowichan River lifted

The Tube Shack opening on June 27

North Island College students printing safety gear

Industrial automation students use program smarts to help others

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

Most Read