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LETU Biology Students to Study Wheelchairs for Disabled Children in Kenya


LeTourneau University students and faculty will be in Kenya from May 5 through May 31 to work with disabled children and conduct research to assess how well the children's wheelchairs work for them.

LETU Assistant Professor of Biology Karen Rispin and two students, Taylor Geyman of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, and Sam Nemati of Altadena, Calif., will travel to partner with Bethany Kids at Joytown Special Primary School for the Disabled as part of the Wheels project at LETU. Wheels team members made a preliminary trip to Joytown in June of 2010 and have facilitated the donation and shipment of two types of pediatric wheelchairs to the school.

"What is really exciting is that our Wheels team's research study has the potential to make a huge difference, not only to the children being fitted with these donated wheelchairs, but to children around the world using wheelchairs provided by the organizations with the same wheelchairs in this study," Rispin said.

David N'gan'ga, who is an administrator at Bethany Kids, said, "The one thing that most impressed me about the Wheels project was their commitment to follow up and do research to see if their donations work well for the children."

While in Kenya, the Wheels team will collect data on maneuverability, ease of rolling and durability, as well as gain questionnaire input on how well each type of wheelchair worked for the kids as they played with friends and went to school. Kris Riseling, a physical therapist from Ontario, and Janet Welch, a wheelchair seating specialist from North Carolina, will accompany the Wheels team and will repair wheelchairs and ensure the chairs are fitted properly for the children.

The organizations that manufacture the two types of wheelchairs are both eager for feedback that will inform their design and help them to provide more functional wheelchairs. To find out more or to donate, go to www.letu.edu/wheels.

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