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

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.

A picture of Bug before the attack by the dogs on Nov. 17, 2020. (Submitted photo)
Three dogs almost kill cat in Miller Road area near Duncan

Efforts to catch the canines unsuccessful so far

Beautiful morning with the sun peaking through, as viewed from Thetis Island. (Photo by Kelly Bannister)
November characterized by a record high, no snow and plenty of rain in Chemainus region

Temperature almost hits the 20 degree Celsius mark on Nov. 4

Group wants to start a pilot program for regenerative farms in North Cowichan. (File photo)
Group looks to North Cowichan for farmland

Land could also be used for affordable housing

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Most Read