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High schoolers build hut for little boy in wheelchair — and he loves it!


New Africa | Shutterstock

Zoe Romanowsky - published on 11/29/21

This is what community is all about.

When Ryder Kilam’s family reached out to the community of Westerly, Rhode Island, for help, they never imagined the kind of response they’d receive — especially from high schoolers. 

Five-year-old Ryder uses a wheelchair and must wait for the school bus at the end of his drive way every morning. His dad set up an old patio umbrella to help protect him from the elements, but it was no longer working. That’s when the family decided to ask around for a better one. And when the Construction Technology class at Westerly High School in Rhode Island found out about Ryder’s need, they didn’t hesitate. 

“I think my first email was, absolutely we’re in,” Dan McKena, who’s been teaching the construction class for 27 years, told WJAR. “… I think it’s very important for my students to learn not only the aspects of construction but of being involved in the community dealing with people outside of the school environment.”

The class used their skills to build a bus hut for Ryder. It only took a few weeks — they worked quickly, as they didn’t want Ryder sitting under an umbrella during the winter months. 

Others in the community supported the project. In addition to the materials the Kilam family purchased, Home Depot kicked in $300 for wood, and a former student at the high school transported the hut to the Kilams’ property. 

Ryders’s dad Tim Kilam says that Ryder is very happy with his new bus hut:

“He loves it, he actually after school makes us stay out here and hang out now it’s his new fort when he gets home,” said Kilam. “The community, they’re incredible, they’ve come forward a couple of times for Ryder. It’s unreal how everyone comes together to make things work for everybody.”

This is a heartwarming example of what community is all about — using our resources and talents to help each other and make sure each other’s needs are met. Ryder gained a new sense of security and love while a group of high schoolers got to hone their carpentry skills to better the life of a little boy. Kindness and generosity for the win!

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