Her face was as red as the mini basketball in her lap, catching our eye, Stephanie beamed as she rapidly propelled her wheelchair towards us. As an active middle schooler, and exceptionally social young woman, it was no surprise when she and her mother agreed to meet with me and my team.
While engaging in front end research at Adapt Design, we caught up with Stephanie during her physical therapy session at University of Michigan's facilities. She was eager to open up about her love of school, but we soon found a topic that dimmed her radiating excitement: field trips.
Stephanie’s middle school offers a variety of field trips that allow students to learn curriculum in an interesting and hands-on way. These field trips give students new perspective as well as the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned.
A recent study from The Wagner Group showed that kids who take field trips are more likely to graduate both high school and college, with 59% showing an improvement in their grades. The survey also found that among those who traveled to learn, 86% believed they were more curious inside the classroom as a result.
Stephanie however, was robbed of these critical experiences. Her insurance company refused to provide her with the hardware necessary to secure her wheelchair into a school bus.
The company claimed that the parts, known as a “transit option”, were a non-essential luxury item that must be paid for by Stephanie’s family. However, these parts would cost her family upwards of $250 out of pocket, a cost that they could not afford at the time.
Stephanie and her mother exchanged a look of helplessness, before sharing she had missed the field trips. She had no choice but to remain at home while her classmates participated in significant educational experiences that could have proved to be essential to her academic success.
My face grew as red as the mini basketball in her lap when I realized it was not a wheelchair part that was labeled as luxury, it was her education.
- Sidney, Co-Founder & Designer
*Stephanie's name has been changed to protect her privacy.