The Meijer Campus in Holland is host to a team of Ottawa County high school students who are participating in IChallengeU, an intense two-week program in which teams solve a real-world problem for an area business.
The four students at the Meijer Campus are led by Renee Fay, Coopersville High School teacher, and Tamika Henry, principal at New Options High School in Allendale.
Lisa Miller, director of the Meijer Campus, said the goals of IChallengeU are for students to build problem-solving and presentation skills, and learn more about their community. Teams are hosted at businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout Holland; IChallengeU culminates on July 17 with a final pitch meeting at Haworth. Each member of the winning team receives a $1,000 scholarship.
The Grand Valley IChallengeU team was charged with this problem: How can we better prepare Lakers to interact with and empower people with various physical and communicative disabilities?
The team met John Farris, professor of engineering, on July 7. Farris and Lisa Kenyon, associate professor of physical therapy, are involved in Grand Valley's Play and Mobility Device, which helps people with cognitive and physical disabilities become more independent.
IChallengeU participants spent their first day in wheelchairs to help them understand what it's like to move from class to class and to the restroom while in a chair.
Farris said one of the challenges of the mobility project is helping engineering students communicate with families of the children who test and use the mobility device.
"We want our students to meet these kids and see their capabilities and their personalities," Farris said.