After learning that a five-year-old child in a wheelchair had been wet while waiting for the school bus during the winter, a group of teens erected a shelter for him.
For the previous three years, Ryder Killam has had to face rain, wind, and snow for around 15 minutes every day, using just a patio umbrella as protection.
Local students in Bradford, Rhode Island, however, set to work and constructed him his own bus shelter for the bottom of his driveway during their construction courses after learning about his dilemma.
“Ryder uses it every day before school, and his nurses stay inside it every day while they wait for him to come home,” Ryder’s father, Tim, 39, explained. “He does like to go hang out in it as his fort from time to time.”
Ryder has never been able to walk because he was born with spina bifida myelomeningocele. He didn’t start using a wheelchair until he was two years old. Ryder began attending inclusionary preschool Dunn’s Corner Elementary in June 2019 and had to be pushed 75 feet to the end of the road by his parents, Tim and Nikea, 39.
Because of his condition, Ryder was unable to race for this bus like his friends on any given day. To prevent missing the bus, he’d have to wait up to 15 minutes outside in whatsoever weather.
Tim planned to put up a patio umbrella at the end of his driveway in September 2021, when Ryder entered kindergarten, to give some cover from the weather.
“The problem is that with the wind and autumn weather here in New England, it didn’t really do anything unless it was simply a rainy day with no wind, otherwise he would still get wet and not remain warm,” Tim explained.
Tim decided to go out to his neighborhood to see if anybody had anything that would work to shelter Ryder from the weather in order to find a solution for his kid.
“I posted on Facebook asking if any of my friends or their contacts would have an old bus hut,” Tim, who owns a maritime electronics firm, explained. “I saw it on people’s land here and there and concluded maybe someone had one and had grown children who didn’t need it anymore.”
Following the posting, Tim was advised by a WPS member to contact Westerly High’s construction class and see if they would be interested in building Ryder a bus stop hut.
Tim then emailed Dan McKena, who had taught construction technology at Westerly High School for the last 27 years, and asked whether he’d be interested in this type of project.
“He answered positively, and then he worked with his pupils to design and build the hut,” he explained.
Three of Mckena’s classes worked tirelessly on the project for several weeks, learning new skills on YouTube as they built the building, inspired by the cause and the knowledge that snow would soon fall.
Home Depot provided around $300 in wood for the project, but the remainder of the components were purchased by the Killams for $600, and they were kept updated with images throughout.
The hut was designed at 58 feet to comfortably accommodate Ryder and one of his parents or a caregiver. On Nov. 2, six weeks after beginning construction on the project, the hut was delivered to Ryder’s residence.
“We were surprised since it was more larger than we imagined and allowed Ryder and an adult to be with him comfortably,” Tim remarked. “Ryder… loves it and wants to have it around all the time.”
The family shared a photo of Ryder at the bus shelter and expressed gratitude for their efforts.
“Our initiative brought our neighborhood together a little bit, and it demonstrated that there is still so much good in this world and town!” Tim stated.
“Because the doors of the bus are 75+ feet apart, we can sit outdoors in the hut and keep out of the weather,” Tim remarked. “Because it takes some effort to go from the home to the bus, and the ramp takes time to drop out of the bus to put him on, it has definitely made things lot easier.”