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YouthBuild Students Build Wheelchair Ramps at Rampathon

Learning basic construction skills and helping out in the community are both big parts of the YouthBuild program. Students from the Cadillac site of YouthBuild Northwest got the chance to use their construction skills and help the community by building wheelchair ramp sections at a "rampathon" held as part of the United Way Day of Caring in Traverse City.

"Our youth can go out and meet people that they're actually helping," said Bill Ford, construction coordinator at the Cadillac site of YouthBuild Northwest. "Instead of us telling them the benefit of what's going on they can actually realize it by working hand-in-hand with local businesses, organizations, and people with disabilities."

The "ramapathon" was a cooperative effort involving YouthBuild, Brown Lumber, the Disability Network of Northern Michigan, and Freedom Builders...a non-profit missions organization that provides housing assistance to people in poverty.

"It's exciting that we can kind of give them a vision for how they're going to make a difference in somebody's life," said Skip Brown, executive director of Freedom Builders.

"Having a ramp on the entrance of somebody's home allows them access in and out and the ability to roam freely which is really, really important," said Reneé Louvierre-Mitchell, community resource coordinator at the Disability Network of Northern Michigan.

She says they get about 10 calls a week from people in northern Michigan who need wheelchair ramps. The work done by the YouthBuild students at the "rampathon" will help the Disability Network meet those needs.

"A lot of the community is needing help," said Veronica Swisher, a YouthBuild student. "It's a good thing for us to come out to help instead of just not doing anything."

"It makes me feel really good that I'm going to help someone get in and out of their house a lot easier," said Tom Loucks, a YouthBuild student.

"My mother is handicapped so this hits home," said Ashley Muske, a YouthBuild student. "I'm building something for my mother."



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Related Info:  YouthBuild Northwest


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- Mark Heydlauff, Charlevoix City Manager