SUNDERLAND — Jessica Callahan made an observation as a class of kindergartners and their educators strolled down a hallway at Sunderland Elementary School.
“This would be anxiety for him,” she said. “He would probably stand in the corner until everybody passed. Whereas on the bike, he’s able to just continue. That’s because he’s thinking about the bike.”
Callahan, an instructional assistant, was referring to 12-year-old Kohen Petrizzi-Phillips, a sixth-grader. Petrizzi-Phillips is a special needs student who enjoys riding the school’s new adaptive tricycle purchased for roughly $2,000 generated through public donations. The adult-size trike is available to all students, though priority is given to about a dozen based on their specific diagnoses.
“It opens an opportunity for other students to meet students with special needs who would be more reclusive or would keep to themselves more, to be out in the community,” Callahan said.
She said the trike opens up a world of beneficial opportunities and social interactions for students with differing needs or severe anxiety. Even going into a hallway filled with peers can be difficult for these students, she said.
Barshefsky said the trike is a long-term investment, as care and maintenance will keep it functional for many years.