Students' Good Deeds Get Community Service Honor

Monday, January 16, 2017

Community Service Toys

Learning Activities: First-year students designed and developed adaptive toys for children with special needs.

Rose-Hulman has been recognized for providing learning tools to Wabash Valley teenagers and young adults with special needs.

Terre Haute's Reach Services Inc. presented its Abe Malooley Award to the institute for work by a group of first-year students late last summer to create playing card holders and redesign three toys for Reach Services' clients to use in physical therapy sessions or borrow from Reach's library of take-home activities.

The toys include a backpack inspired by the popular "Star Wars" movie character Yoda to give clients a variety of physical exercises to improve range of motion and motor skills. The students also modified the classic "Operation" game to feature "Star Wars"-themed, saber-like devices to extract game pieces from the game board, and developed a specialized joystick to help a remote-controlled miniature car complete paths on race courses.

"The students came up some creative ideas that are helping our clients immensely," says Reach Services Executive Director Suzy Thompson. Annually, the agency serves approximately 1,700 people with disabilities, and the library is used by nearly 650 people and teachers.

"We were so delighted that each project was created especially for us; this isn't something that we or the parents of our clients could get off the shelf at a store," Thompson remarks. "We're look forward to working with Rose-Hulman on future projects."

Interim Dean of Faculty Jameel Ahmed and mechanical engineering professors Ashley Bernal and Jay McCormack accepted the award during Reach Services' 2017 fundraising telethon Jan. 14.

Rose-Hulman's new Integrated Design & Communication Program, which piloted a design studio-type laboratory, allowed incoming freshmen to learn elements of engineering design, work in teams on a hands-on project, and explore their interests in engineering. The five-week summer course was developed in connection with the institute's participation in the Kern Entrepreneurial Education Network.