on October 26, 2005
Making a difference for many families
SUPPORTIVE FAMILY (THE DAILY GLEANER/LORI
family recognizes he'll face many challenges in
life and is glad the Tetra Society is there to
find innovative ways to overcome them. From left
are, six-year-old Dylan Boyd; his mother Kim
Boyd; father Jim Boyd; and sister Olivia Boyd,
Tetra Society is breaking down barriers, one innovative
design at a time.
"The society is a non-profit
group that recruits volunteer engineers, technologists,
health professionals and anybody that has a technical
mind to be able to create assistive devices for people
with disabilities, things that aren't already available
on the marketplace," says Christine Plourde,
co-ordinator for the Fredericton chapter of the Tetra
Often the items they adapt are simple
things, something a person needs to do an everyday
"In our chapter, we've done a lot of things
dealing with recreation because that's not funded under
the Medicare system," explains Plourde.
the items volunteers have adapted is a motorized car and
one of the first to try it out was six-year-old Dylan
His mother, Kim Boyd, vividly remembers the
day Dylan, who has cerebral palsy, learned to drive
"We were going to meet with Lise Bleau, an
occupational therapist at Stan Cassidy (Rehabilitation
Centre)," she says.
When she and Dylan arrived,
Bleau had a little grey and red jeep there that had been
adapted by Tetra.
When Kim Boyd learned what
Bleau had planned, she admits she was surprised, as
Dylan can't sit on his own and needs to be in supported
"He's a quadriplegic. He has movement in
his arms and legs yet he has no control over his arms
and legs," explains Kim Boyd.
imagine how he'd be able to drive, when he'd never done
anything like it before, but she trusted
"We had him all buckled and fastened in so
he was nice and safe, and we had a little piece in the
back for head support," she says.
fastened a bib made of mouldable plastic around Dylan's
neck and placed the control button - a happy-face switch
- on that so he would have access to it.
order for him to make the car go, he had to press down
with his chin on his happy-face button," says Boyd. "And
within an hour-and-a-half he was doing it."
adds, "I was in tears, it was amazing."
went all over the place, driving through the halls of
the Stan Cassidy Rehabilitation Centre to the
encouragement of staff and patients, before taking it
"He even got to go over the lawn and
into the mucky part," she says.
"He was laughing
- it was just amazing to see him go in that little
Boyd says her family is lucky to have
"She's such an inspiration because she
doesn't set any limits for these special needs
Bleau really feels the kids can learn
things, says Boyd, even when parents have their
"Mom and dad get used to limitations and
they (the staff at Stan Cassidy) say 'they can do
that,'" says Jim Boyd, Dylan's father.
adds, "As parents, we're thankful to have Lise. And
we're thankful to Tetra, because you can't buy something
like this on the market."
Since then, Dylan has
driven the adapted car at school and around his
"It's priceless," says Jim Boyd.
"There was such excitement and joy on that boys
He adds, "You don't think how important
that would be to a little boy, but it is."
Boyd says Tetra is a great organization. Thanks in part
to the work the volunteers there are doing, she can see
that there are no limits on what her son can
"As a parent of a child with special needs,
we're learning every day, too," she says. "You don't
mean to limit them, but you're very overprotective of
the opportunity to drive the adapted car gave Dylan such
a sense of accomplishment, she says.
WORK IN PROGRESS (LORI GALLAGHER
This is the moulded
plastic bib created by the Stan Cassidy Centre
for Dylan Boyd to wear when driving the adapted
car. His father, Jim Boyd, calls this a work in
progress as it needs another strap to help keep
it in place. He says so many things are a work
in progress for special needs kids, as they need
to be tweaked to best serve the user.
expression on Dylan's face. It was like, 'Wow -
everybody is so proud of me.' " says Boyd.
him it was the joy of being able to do something and not
having someone do it for him," she notes.
experience was an amazing one for all of
"Dylan has so many challenges, but yet he's
a joyful little child, always smiles and laughs," she
says. "We're so very blessed to have him."
Dylan's enjoyment of the car, his grandfather went out
and purchase a Corvette for him, which is in the process
of being adapted now.
The man who is doing the
adapting is Tom Sisk. This engineer has been
volunteering with the Tetra Society for about two
He discovered the organization after
moving to Fredericton three years ago.
building things and solving problems," he says, "a lot
of the work we do with Tetra is actually building
Some things are simple, others pose a
bit more of a creative challenge.
me, the solving of the problem is intellectual
stimulation," he says.
NEWFOUND FREEDOM (SUBMITTED
Six-year-old Dylan Boyd
enjoys riding in his customized jeep. The toy
allows the little boy to control its movements
using a chin-activated switch.
"Being able to start at
one end and actually finish something is sort of a neat
The fact that the items he and the
other volunteers create help make someone's life better
is a wonderful bonus. Sisk admits it's a nice
"That's part of a personal philosophy,"
"If you can be doing something, you
should be doing something."
The local chapter of
the Tetra Society began in 2000. It was founded by
Plourde and another engineer.
The appeal of the
society was being able to be able to use their
engineering skills in a way that would directly help
someone, she says, "and you could actually see a smile
on somebody's face because of something you've
She adds, "In a technical profession, you
don't often get to experience that with your
Plourde and the other Tetra volunteers
have slowly been spreading the word about their
organization ever since. "It's an ongoing process to
just keep getting the word out," she says.
biggest thing is to just talk about it, to tell people
about it, to just remember it exists."
volunteers are always welcome, as are donations of
"We work on very little funding
locally. The way the program works is the volunteer time
is free, so all the design and build services are
It is only the cost of the materials that
would be the responsibility of the client," says
Plourde, noting that they do their best to keep these
costs to a minimum.
The local chapter is small
and is the only one in New Brunswick, says
When people join, they are asked to
donate a one-time $10 fee to help with the day-to-day
operations of the volunteer-run group.
more about the local chapter of the Tetra Society,
contact Plourde at 462-7662 or by e-mail at cplourde@CRAworld.com.
Or visit the Tetra website at http://www.tetrasociety.org/.
local chapter holds a regular volunteer meeting the
first Monday of the month at 6:45 p.m.
information, contact Plourde.
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