High School Students Build Wheelchair Ramp For War Veteran

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FORT SMITH (KFSM)-Northside High School advanced carpentry students are teaming up to build a wheelchair ramp for a local war veteran.

“That wheelchair in there, me taking it up and down those steps, and they`re the old steps, which are that deep and that thing is not light, so them building that, that`s a blessing in disguise,” William Pyles said.

Pyles served in Army during the Vietnam War. He said his mobility became limited about 12 years ago. The Fort Smith Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic is 200 yards from his home, but walking there is no longer an easy task.

“With this being built in, instead of having to take 20-25 minutes to walk over there, I can just go down the ramp and scoot on over there,” Pyles said.

“I just wanted to teach the kids that it feels good to do something for your community,” teacher Ken Fletcher said. “We`re not getting paid for this, but here in the cold weather, it just kind of warms your heart to do something nice for someone.”

The class is made up of eleven students who are mostly juniors and seniors. They began construction last Monday (Nov. 3).

“The most rewarding part of it is to know that we`re helping a guy who`s helped us have our freedom, and to give him the freedom of being able to access outside and be able to maneuver from inside his house to outside and being able to get to where he needs to go,” Pyles said.

“When you put the time in to teach them the skills, that they can actually come out here and use those to do better for the community,” Fletcher said.

Lowes and Home Depot donated around $950 in materials to the project. Fletcher expects the project to be complete by Monday (Nov. 17).