Power in Pumpers

Students get mobile aboard donated vehicles

June 18, 2005

Learning is four on the floor for special needs students in Hood River County Schools.

Four human-powered vehicles known as “Power Pumpers,” now ride along selected school hallways, helping special needs students get around and giving them new options for mobility and recreation.

Hood River Rotary Club and Foundation and Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital donated a total of $2,000 to purchase the four Power Pumpers, which are like wide-wheeled go-carts operated by pushing hands or feet.

“The power pumper is going to be a great piece of equipment for adapted recreation,” said Andrea Britton, special needs teacher and case manager at Wy’east Middle School. “The students will learn important coordination skills that could transfer to other recreational activities that the students could participate in. For the students it will involve thinking and then transforming those thoughts into action that gives them an immediate response of movement.”

Britton said the pumpers have had the added benefit of engaging special needs kids with students in the school’s general population.

“They can say to the special needs kids, ‘that looks like fun,’ and it gives them something they can talk about and something to connect with,” Britton said.

Mid Valley Elementary received two vehicles, and a fourth Power Pumper is in use at-large in the district.

“It looks like the Power Pumpers are going to give mobility to a large number of kids,” said Rotary president Judy Dutcher. “We are really glad they’re working well for the students.”

Mike Jones of the Mobility Foundation, which makes the devices, told his story to the Rotary Club in July 2004 (see sidebar) and Rotary board members immediately recognized the ways the Power Pumpers could serve students.

From there, Rotary board members Jonathan Emerson and Jean Sheppard suggested the hospital could also support the effort.

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