Charleston teacher gets box truck, surprises student in wheelchair with equipment stuck in school

Updated: Apr. 23, 2020 at 3:45 PM EDT
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HOLLYWOOD, S.C. (WCSC) - A teacher at PACE Charter School in West Ashley got a box truck with one goal in mind: get her student in a wheelchair a crucial piece of equipment locked inside the school.

It’s called a stander, and Madi, a 17-year-old who is nonverbal, hasn’t been able to use it since school closed a month ago. It allows her to get out of her wheelchair and some spend time upright.

“I thought there’s no way we could get this large stander in the house or even to the house," Melissa Kelly, Madi’s mom, said. “All of a sudden, this large truck pulls up that has a lift gate and the whole nine yards, and out pops Madi’s giant piece of equipment, her stander, which she desperately needed."

The surprise took some planning by Amanda Selstad, Madi’s teacher, because the seven-foot stander is not short nor light. It weighs over 200 pounds.

“It’s not something you can just pick up. It’s not going to fit in a car. It’s not going to fit in a van. And, it’s probably not the safest thing to put in the back of a pick up truck," Selstad said. “It has four wheels, but it’s a very awkward piece of equipment."

She and her boyfriend then got his box truck, and with its hydraulic lift gate, they were able to get into the truck. They then drove it to Madi’s house, a move that took approval from Laura Del Duca, PACE’s principal.

“When she got the nod that she could get in the building, she ran with it," Del Duca said. "Now, the parents have the ability to get her in the stander every day. It’s these kind of stories of how our teachers are getting out there and being creative to meet all of the needs, even the unique ones, for our students.”

PACE offers academics, pediatric therapy, and rehabilitation for children with multiple and severe disabilities spanning from kindergarten through age 21.

“In the classroom, so many things are hands on," Selstad said. "I really had to think outside of the box and think of different approaches of how to adapt my lessons. We already have to adapt our lessons in the classroom, but now we’re having to adapt them even more.”

This equipment is already making a difference in Madi’s day-to-day life. It allows to her to change position, which helps with blood circulation, breathing, and giving her a new perspective.

“The more activity you have, the better you sleep, the better you feel, so all of those things are falling back into her norm,” Kelly said. “She really enjoys it, so it’s a win-win when we can do something good for her, and it’s something she really enjoys."

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