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

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

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

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

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

Jon Lefebure went back to construction after losing the 2018 mayor’s post in North Cowichan to work on the Cottages On Willow. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Former North Cowichan mayor retools priorities with construction project

Fresh air a benefit and satisfaction results from building eight-unit housing complex

Protesters stand in front of a truck carrying logs to the WFP Ladysmith log sort. (Cole Schisler photo)
Protesters block entrance to Western Forest Products in Ladysmith

Blockade cleared by Ladysmith RCMP around noon, December 2

A truck arrives with a load of logs at Western Forest Products’ mill in Ladysmith. More work will be coming to the Ladysmith sawmill in February, says WFP. (Black Press file photo)
More work at Ladysmith mill in new year, says Western Forest Products

Company says Ladysmith operation to see second shift in February

After a brief closure, Roberts Street Pizza will reopen with an updated COVID-19 safety plan. (Cole Schisler photo)
Roberts Street Pizza reopens December 3

The store closed for a few days to update their COVID-19 safety plan

Ben Maartman, pictured in his ‘farm office’ has been elected as Area H director. (Ben Maartman photo)
Ben Maartman declared Director of CVRD Area H

Maartman will be sworn in on December 8

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

Most Read