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Candor High School Design Impacts Two Lives

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By Jason Weinstein.
Owego Free Academy graduate Jessica Burrell was left a quadriplegic after a car accident in 2008. She has worked her way off of a ventilator and from using a motorized wheelchair to gaining use of both arms. But she still has almost no use of her left hand - that is until a device developed by students at Candor High School is helping her open, close, and grip.

"I was just amazed that we have this technology in upstate New York and that these high school students are as intelligent as they are," said Jessica Burrell.

The device is the class' submission into the SourceAmerica Design Challenge, making Candor High one of 72 competitors in the country. But seeing it's impact on Jessica has meant more than a contest.

"We are one of 72 schools. I don't care if we're last. The benefits that we're given to Jessica have benefited my students ten fold," said Candor High School Technology Education teacher Stephen Lindridge.

Jessica wasn't the class' first test subject. Originally they measured a device for 11-year-old Candon Westervelt, who two years ago had the right half of his brain removed to treat the seizure disorder Rasmussens Encephalitis. He has made tremendous strides since his surgery but still has limited mobility in his left hand.

"We told him he was the client. So when he came in to be interviewed and be measured to have a device made he dressed the part. He wore a tie and brought a little briefcase," said Colby Westervelt, Candor's mother and Health teacher at Candor High School.

"I thought it was really cool that they were trying to build a device to make me have a better life," said Candor Westervelt.

Candon's mother teaches at Candor High School. Since the SourceAmerica Design Challenge aims to create products to help people in the workplace, the class shifted it's focus to Jessica who is studying to become a speech pathologist while also working with Candon. And the class thinks the device has potential moving forward.

"We're helping Jessica and with a similar design we can help Candon. There's more people out there that hopefully we can help them, too," said Candor High School Senior Steven Veasey.

"Our ultimate goal is to continue this process and not just stop here," said Lindridge.

The students expect to hear at the end of January whether their project will be one of the final ones judged in Washington DC.

****In Candor, Jason Weinstein, Fox 40 HD News****