Central Region Cluster peddles outreach

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Central Region Cluster peddles outreach

Voice: March 2017

Central Region Cluster 2's intensive community outreach program has been heavily involved with literary projects, primarily its highly successful "Books for Babies" program that provides 3,000 books a year to newborns at local hospitals.

Then Todd Russell of Hollidaysburg Area EA and liaison for the cluster, which includes PSEA locals in Blair County, as well as locals in State College and Philipsburg-Osceola in Centre County, attended a banquet honoring an AFSCME member for his involvement in providing a specially designed bike for a student with special needs in a western Pennsylvania district.

What Russell saw and heard that night about Vanity, a Pittsburgh nonprofit that makes the specially fitted bikes, launched a new "cycle" in the cluster's community outreach efforts.

Russell and other members of the cluster's community outreach team went to work to provide a bike for Kayda Hinsch, a fourth-grader at the Hollidaysburg Area School District's Frankstown Elementary School.

The cluster received a $2,000 grant from PSEA to pay for the $1,800 bike, and the remaining money went to provide a special Dr. Seuss book package Barnes & Noble put together to go along with the bike. Vanity representatives met with Hinsch to take measurements and learn about her needs to specially design the bike, which also can be adjusted to accommodate her growth through the years.

"The bike provides her exercise and mobility, but the big thing is the child feels like everybody else now," Russell said. "That is what we wanted. We brought her entire class in for the presentation, and they were all cheering."

But Russell and his outreach team - Kelly Hinkledire of Claysburg-Kimmel EA, Josh Wolf of Spring Cove EA, Amy Lawrence of State College EA, and Lisa Sprankle of Barnes & Noble - weren't leaving it at that.

Based on what the team members learned in providing the bike for Hinsch, they  plan to provide a bike each year to a student in each of the nine school districts making up Cluster 2.

Russell said Vanity has agreed to finance the bikes provided the cluster does much of the resource and leg work.

"We learned a lot in terms of how Vanity worked with the family to figure out the child's specific needs," Russell said. "And we'll be able to brief special education teachers and physical therapists about the bikes and how they are operated."