Worcester Tech Students Create Useful Assistive Device For Special Needs Students

Worcester Tech Students Create Useful Assistive Device For Special Needs Students
Cedar Chapel Special School student Rasaan Revels is pictured with a new tool designed by Worcester Tech students. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

SNOW HILL –  A collaboration between two schools has resulted in a new tool for students with disabilities.

On Friday, Worcester Technical High School senior Austin Cheynet presented Cedar Chapel Special School with a piece of equipment that will help students with disabilities try different sports.

“It allows students with disabilities to play sports like baseball, golf and hockey,” Cheynet said.

Cheynet and fellow Worcester Tech students Nathanial Bradford and Kyle Elliot created the assistive device last spring in Valerie Zienty’s pre-engineering program.

“We came last May and interviewed teachers and asked about the problems they had,” Zienty said. “Mr. Johnson said they always needed assistive devices.”

Zak Johnson, physical education teacher at Cedar Chapel, said that because of the individual needs of the students at the school, they couldn’t always take advantage of traditional physical education practices. To help change that, Cheynet and his peers created a device made of PVC pipe to which a bat can be attached. A student can then pull a handle on the other end of the pipe to make the bat swing.

“You strap the sports equipment on and then they can grab the other end and rotate it,” Cheynet said. “It has adjustable height too.”

While Zienty always has her students focus on innovations and inventions for their capstone projects, in advance of last spring’s projects she reached out to other schools to see if there were ways her students could help them. She’s thrilled that Cheynet and his peers were able to help Johnson enhance his physical education program.

“Austin’s graduating this year so I wanted him to create a legacy he could leave behind,” she said. “It makes me proud.”

Cedar Chapel 12th grader Rasaan Revels was the first student to try the device Friday. Johnson said he was just one of several students who would be able to benefit from the new equipment.

“It takes away having to hold the weight of the bat so they can concentrate on movement,” he said. “We can use it for a variety of applications.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.