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CALERA, Ala. (WIAT) – A shop teacher at Calera High School is inspiring students to make the world a better place. Last year, Brian Copes class put their talent to work building vehicles to help a village in Honduras plow fields, drill water, and move the injured to hospitals.
This year’s goal isn’t as ambitious but this time they’re helping students in their own school.
Thanks to their work PJ Manzy can get a taste of freedom. He’s able to ride a bike around the schools parking lot thanks to a rig built by the class.
It works by joining one bike to another.
It gives the rider the feeling of riding on their own… but with an abled body person on the next bike over, there’s always someone with complete control of the vehicle.
Freshman David Sloop is proud to be part of this project. “We’re helping someone do something they wouldn’t be able to do themselves.”
Classmate Blake Woods wasn’t present for the initial ride… but word quickly spread and he was pleased to know he’s made adifference in the day of one of his classmates.
“Man I saw the smiles on their faces. It was priceless. I mean you couldn’t do anything better you know helping out somebody you don’t even know.”
Donna Sinquefield is familiar with how Mr. Copes students have made a difference in the third world. While this project is much smaller in scale she says she could barely contain her joy when she learned how her students lives would be changed with something as simple as a bike ride.
“It was just excitement. Just thought of some of these kids who have never been able to ride a traditional bike being able to have that freedom.”
After the first time around the parking lot Sinquefield says PJ surprised her with something he’s never done before.
“He doesn’t have much receptive verbal language or even written. He grabbed the dry erase mark and wrote in capital letters “happy” across the board. So, it doesn’t get much better than that.”
The tandem bike will be shared with other schools in Shelby County with the plan to build more down the road.
With the bike build completed Mr. Copes shop class now turns their attention to next year’s project building a hydro-electric generator to assist the villagers they met in Honduras last year.