STEAM Lab students adapt a wheelchair for play

Oley Valley School District  |  Posted on

Mrs. Olexy’s STEAM Lab has worked on designing a modification to a wheelchair for play. Our project has led to some creative problem solving and awareness. To finish our unit of study, we reached out to Mr. Chris Kaag. He is one of the IM ABLE Foundation founding members in Wyomissing, PA. Chris met in Zoom with Oley Valley High School students and shared the work he is doing to help create opportunities for people of various abilities. Mr. Kaag is a U.S. Marine who faced a debilitating hereditary disease after he injured his head in a Marine Corp Rugby Game. Being in a wheelchair has only intensified his drive. He lives by the motto, “Dig deep, and you can accomplish anything.”

During his Zoom session with our class, Mr. Kaag told us how he found his “Why.” He feels such reward from seeing how introducing people who haven’t participated in activities, such as biking, skiing or weight-lifting, get to use equipment that allows them to become true athletes again. They modify the equipment to custom fit the needs of each client.

The STEAM class was treated to stories of modifying bikes for people who only had the use of a single limb and were given the ability to participate in races, and a 5-year-old who lit up feeling himself work the bike for the first time. “We will all have bumps along the way, but don’t let them be your crutch; instead, make them your stepping stones!” shared Mr. Kaag.

The IM ABLE Foundation is a nonprofit organization that runs off the donations and grants. Mr. Kaag encouraged students to get involved and volunteer to join his inclusive fitness classes.