Rhode Island students build bus stop shelter for boy who uses wheelchair

WESTERLY, R.I. — High school students in Rhode Island made it easier for a boy in a wheelchair to remain sheltered while waiting for his bus each morning.

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The construction class at Westerly High School built a bus hut for 5-year-old Ryder Kilam, WJAR reported. The structure sits at the end of the driveway of the boy’s home, allowing him to wait in comfort for the bus that will take him to Dunn’s Corners Elementary School in Westerly.

“With Ryder being in a wheelchair, unfortunately, it’s about 75 feet from our house to the bus,” the boy’s father, Tim Kilam, told the television station. “He’s not the typical child that can run out when the bus comes.”

The family initially set up a homemade area at the end of the driveway, but as autumn progressed blustery weather caused a problem.

“We ended up having an old patio umbrella standing out here to keep him dry but with the wind blowing and stuff it just didn’t work,” Tim Kilam told WJAR. “So we decided to reach out to the community. We actually put a post on Facebook looking for friends that maybe knew somebody that had one that they were no longer using.”

The construction technology class at Westerly High School answered the call.

“I think my first email was, absolutely we’re in,” Dan McKena, who has been teaching the class for 27 years, told the television station. “We’ve done other projects before. 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.”

Home Depot donated about $300 worth of wood, and the Kilam family paid for the rest of it.

The class made sure the hut was compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards so the boy and his family could fit in the hut comfortably, WJAR reported. The project was completed in several weeks.

“The reason we put a rush on it was we knew snow would fly and we didn’t want Ryder sitting outside under his umbrella throughout the winter,” McKena told the television station. “I think they did a great job with everything. To come up with a final product like that, I was proud of them.”

Ryan Killam loves his new shelter.

“He actually after school makes us stay out here and hang out, now it’s his new fort,” Tim Kilam told WJAR. “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.”

“The family sent me a photo of Ryder in the bus stop and his grin, his smile, I think my response to that email was just, ‘Priceless,’” McKena told the television station. “That one photo that the family sent me made it all worth it and I shared it with the students that were involved in the construction.”