February 1, 2014

Scout builds desks for students in wheelchairs


Associated Press

— Mariah Smith, a sophomore at Perry High School, is trying to adjust to classwork after missing several days due to hip surgery.

She enjoys her classes and especially likes math, but she faces challenges other students don’t because she has cerebral palsy.

Her wheelchair prevents her from using the desks her classmates do, so she often works on a plastic tray.

From now on, though, Mariah will be able to sit at a desk like everyone else thanks to a donation spearheaded by a Warner Robins teenager.

Earlier this month, Christy Jones, who teaches orthopedic impaired students at Houston County schools, delivered three custom-built desks to Perry High that were specifically designed for students like Mariah who have cerebral palsy. A fourth desk was delivered to Bonaire Middle School for a student with muscular dystrophy.

Morgan Carr, a 14-year-old Boy Scout representing Troop 550 in Warner Robins, made the construction of those desks the focus of his Eagle Scout service project.

The service project is a major requirement for young men wishing to reach the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America. It calls for a service project that demonstrates leadership and benefits the community.

Morgan’s father, Elmer, estimated that Morgan and other Troop 550 Scouts spent 70 to 80 hours building the four desks.

Morgan and his father researched the design of the desks online and discussed the design with Jones before starting the project in October.

Morgan said he thought of a cousin who began using a wheelchair after a car accident. A custom-built desk would have helped him when he was younger, Morgan said.

Giving the four desks adjustable heights was the biggest challenge, Elmer Carr said, because the Scouts had to figure out how to mount special hinges.

Besides having adjustable heights and sturdy legs, the tops of the desks can be lifted up for more accessible angles. They also feature a bookshelf and pencil holders.

“And the desks have half-moons cut out of them so the students can get close” to their work, the elder Carr said.

Morgan received donations from friends and family for the project. He also received a $100 grant from Lowe’s, which he used to purchase brushes, hinges and other materials.

Elmer Morgan is in his third year as Troop 550’s leader. He said Scouting gives young men an opportunity to learn to be leaders and better citizens and prepares them for “life in the outside world.”

Morgan was in class at Feagin Middle School when Jones delivered the desks he built to Perry High.

During her world history class that day, Mariah sat behind a desk just like everybody else.

Outside, Jones unloaded the last of the new desks from a pickup.

“This project is going to last for years and help students for years to come,” she said.