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Gift with a purpose
Christmas came early at GBMS
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Spirits are lifted when special education teacher Connie Ward goes for a spin with Jacob, a student at Great Bend Middle School. - photo by Courtesy of Great Bend USD 428

When needs were identified, special education teacher Connie Ward got rolling on a solution. Shortly before Christmas, a new trike was delivered to the Great Bend Middle School Special Education program, meeting the physical needs of their students while generating confidence.    

“Last May, when I decided to follow my students from Lincoln Elementary to the Great Bend Middle School, one of my first priorities was addressing the absence of a playground with something to get my students moving,” said Ward. “I knew these students had never enjoyed the experience of riding a bike. 

Thanks to the help of Todd Vanskike, I’ve seen smiles, heard joyful singing, and listened to the kids talk about the freedom they feel on the trike.”  

Eager to try out their new wheels, the class is utilizing the multipurpose room at the Great Bend Middle School to ride the trike. As temperatures get warmer this spring, the trike will move outdoors.

Due to the nature of their disabilities, seventh- and eighth-grade special education students are bused to Great Bend High School for Adaptive PE. The trike provides a social and emotional outlet, as well as physical exercise for the students in a much closer proximity. 

To select the right equipment, Ward provided a list of safety and security requirements to Todd Vanskike, owner of Golden Belt Bicycle in downtown Great Bend. Balance and stability were two of the issues that were a priority. Vanskike worked Worksman Cycles to customize the bike with seat belts, two sets of pedals and other elements to meet the needs of the students. 

“I’m always happy to help a customer find the right bike,” said Vanskike, “but this project was pretty special knowing it will provide a new experience for the students and be something they can enjoy.”

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The custom trike was delivered before Christmas.