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Magee Students Use Woodworking Skills to Support Special Needs Student

Grade 12 Magee student Wayne Tsao and Grade 11 Magee students Henry Tsao and David Carbonilla recently completed a woodworking project that they hope will make a world of difference for special needs student John Janowicz.

Janowicz, who spends the majority of his day in a wheelchair, suffers from the rare and complex Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome, which limits control of his personal actions, his mobility and includes self-destructive tendencies. To help with the environmental controls of his wheel-chair Janowicz has a small iPad remote. While helpful, SSW Ben Chudnovsky noticed that the control panel continually was jostled due to the boys movements.

That's when woodwork and drafting teacher Rob Ehler decided to find a school-based solution to Janowicz's problem. He asked his senior woodworking class if any groups were interested in designing a protective housing cover for the iPad control.

The Tsao brothers and Carbonilla volunteered their time. Over the next couple months, the three partners labored on the housing, refining its design and sculpting it to suit Janowicz's needs.

"It was pretty difficult project because we really wanted to get the dimensions right and we needed to make it comfortable for John," said Carbonilla. "So it got us thinking about things from John's perspective."

Magee Vice Principal Nick Akrap says the iPad housing construction project was a phenomenal idea.

"Not only is it hands on learning for these guys, but it gets the kids thinking about how they relate to another student," he says. "It is thanks to them that John has more independence."

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