Thursday, June 6, 2013

Incredible Minds & Hearts: Wheels

Wide awake at 2am, sleepy at 6pm - jet lag is a summer rite of passage for many LETU students. It's an inconvenient reminder that the world isn't all that big - you were just on the other side of it. Our four LETU students on the Wheels team are still feeling that lag today.

On Monday, the group of biology and kinesiology students led by LETU biology professor Karen Rispin arrived back in Texas from their three-week stint in Kenya. For the past three years, the Wheels team has partnered with wheelchair manufacturers and with Bethany Kids in Joytown, Kenya. Every summer, a LeTourneau team is sent to conduct comparative testing of wheelchairs designed for use on rough terrain.

This year, the team tested the Whirlwind Rough Rider and the Motivation Rough Terrain wheelchairs, comparing them both to a standard hospital wheelchair many are forced to use when no better option is available.

"We collect data on the chairs, and the manufacturers look at the data and see how they can apply it," says Rispin. "The challenges are the same as here [in America], only a bit more difficult. People don't live on paved surfaces."

Nicole Leman, who graduated in May before leaving on the research trip, remarked, "I didn't realize the possibilities. They find a way to look out for each other despite their disabilities. It was really neat to realize that we really could have an impact."

At LETU, ministry is in everything we do. From testing wheelchairs in Kenya, to fixing airplanes in Alaska, to building wind-powered generators for use on the mission field, we know that when it comes to ministry, applying the skills our students learn in the classroom to changing lives is powerful. These opportunities, getting to work with disabled kids on the sandy terrain of Kenya, seemingly change our students as much as they bring change to the children of Kenya.

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