Skip to main content

Hands-on Service Learning with REquipment!

By eanderson

December 17, 2019

High school students are learning about more than electronics in Rochester.

Smiling high school-aged boys repair a power wheelchair.
Students repair a power wheelchair at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technology School in Rochester.

Last February, REquipment was contacted by Dan Brush, an electronics engineering instructor at the Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical School in Rochester, MA. Dan was reaching out because his students had just repaired a donated scooter. He was looking for help finding it a new home and sharing the cost of repairs. I was excited to learn of high school students eager to fix durable medical equipment. Dan was enthusiastic to continue their service-learning.

The outcome of the phone call? A pilot collaboration for the following school year!  REquipment would provide two non-functioning power wheelchairs and new batteries. Dan’s students, with his guidance, would diagnose and repair them. If the wheelchairs passed inspection by our REquipmet technicians, they would be placed in our inventory to find appropriate users.

To follow through, last August we provided two power wheelchairs in anticipation of the new school year. The wheelchairs, Dan informed us, would not only help students learn about electronics, but also the positive impact they have on REquipment program users.

“This is a great experience for them,” Dan wrote us in an email on December 12th.  “They all really feel that they are doing something worthwhile (which they are of course!)”

So far, Dan says, one wheelchair is operational and the second will soon receive attention. He says he may enlist the help of another school department to make a bracket for the second chair’s damaged controller.

I’m excited by the possibilities this pilot provides. It’s a win for everyone: for students whose learning has clear value in the real world, for the REquipment Program which receives help to get more powered DME refurbished, and for the individuals who benefit by DME reuse.

How might we build more of these collaborations? I’d love to hear from you.