Chairlift helps Hillcrest Elementary student get to lunch

Apr 5 2012 - 11:01pm

Images

Principal Lichelle Watne helps student Jared Quintana down the stairs to the cafeteria with a mobile chairlift at Hillcrest Elementary School in Ogden on Thursday. (NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner)
It now takes Jared Quintana three minutes to use a chairlift in order to reach the cafeteria at Hillcrest Elementary School in Ogden on Thursday. (NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner)
Principal Lichelle Watne helps student Jared Quintana onto the mobile chairlift at Hillcrest Elementary School in Ogden on Thursday. (NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner)
Principal Lichelle Watne helps student Jared Quintana down the stairs to the cafeteria with a mobile chairlift at Hillcrest Elementary School in Ogden on Thursday. (NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner)
It now takes Jared Quintana three minutes to use a chairlift in order to reach the cafeteria at Hillcrest Elementary School in Ogden on Thursday. (NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner)
Principal Lichelle Watne helps student Jared Quintana onto the mobile chairlift at Hillcrest Elementary School in Ogden on Thursday. (NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner)

OGDEN -- Jared Quintana's journey to his Hillcrest Elementary School cafeteria used to take him and the person pushing his wheelchair out the front door, down a ramp, around the school through wind, rain or snow, up three stairs and into the back door of the basement lunchroom.

Now the second-grader simply rides "Jared's machine."

"All the kids think it's really cool," Hillcrest Principal Lichelle Watne said of the school's new portable chairlift, which takes Jared up and down the cafeteria stairway, keeping him and his chair level during the three-minute journey.

"They all ask if they can ride Jared's machine, but they can't," Watne said. "They can't even be on the stairway when Jared is using it."

Hillcrest Elementary was built in 1957, a full 33 years before the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law, requiring accessibility to government buildings.

The cost to replace or fully remodel older schools is prohibitive, so districts have been working with what they have to make vintage buildings more accessible to handicapped students, parents and staffers.

"The chairlift is cheaper than trying to remodel a school from the 1950s," Watne said.

"We put a ramp in front of the school and put on a handicapped accessible door. We have a handicapped accessible bathroom, so the portable chairlift is the last thing."

The Ogden School District paid $15,000 for the chairlift and an equal amount for a second chair for use at Mount Ogden Junior High. The chair's official name is the Garaventa Stair-Trek Super-Trac Tre-52.

Watne said Jared might have felt self-conscious about using the chairlift if other students had teased him, but that didn't happen.

"Everyone's been really excited about the chairlift," the principal said. "I trained to use it, teachers did and a custodian."

Jared rolls onto the lift by ramp, buckles a seat belt, and he's ready for staffers to push the buttons that run the machine.

Jared now eats both breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria.

"He used to eat upstairs with a friend," Watne said. "Now he's enjoying the same accessibility other kids have."

So has Jared's new celebrity brought him out of his shell?

"No, because he's always been a really fun kid, and everybody likes him," Watne said.

"He is so appreciative, and his parents are very excited, too."

From Around the Web

  +