| May 29, 2008

Feature Article - May 29, 2008

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Feature Article - May 29, 2008 Mom, Mitch & Mr. Mol: The 3 Ms of the “Cody Bike Project”By Julie Druker

Mitchell Austin and Mike Mol with 'the Cody bike'.

Moms are responsible for many things in the lives of their children. It was Cody’s mom, Cara Lacelle, who got the wheels turning for this project in December 2007 when she approached Mike Mol, head of the Manufacturing Technology Department at Sydenham High School where her son Cody is a student in the School to Community program.

Her reason? To see if it would be possible to design and build a bike for her son Cody, a 15-year-old special needs student whose balancing abilities require him to ride a three-wheeled bicycle rather than a regular two-wheeler. He had recently outgrown his last three-wheeler.

Mitchell Austin, a high skills specialist student in the manufacturing program at the school had a lead role in the designing and fabricating of the bike. He sums up the challenge: “You can’t get a three-wheeled bike that big for a 15-year-old. I searched on the internet and realized that they just don’t make them.” Well that was then and this is now.

Mike Mol immediately recognized the birth of a special project for his class, one that would challenge his students on many levels and one that would make a real difference in the life of a fellow student and member of the community.

He and Principal Anne Otonicar approached the people necessary to make this dream come true. The “Cody Bike Project”, as it came to be known as, received a $2100 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Kingston through the Limestone Learning Foundation and was given the go-ahead to proceed.

Mitch Austin and Dayton Campbell, both students in the Manufacturing Technology Program at SHS, began designing the bike in December using the trial and error approach. They executed a number of sketches and drawings before Mitch and Mr. Mol finalized the design. The “chopper” theme was an important consideration in the design process. The students unanimously agreed that the “chopper look” would add the element of “cool” to the bike’s final design.

The frame of the bike was custom made using a tube bending machine that was acquired with a portion of the grant money. The frame of the bike is finished in a mottled green metal spray reminiscent of heavy duty army vehicles. The design incorporates three different existing bicycles, including a mountain bike and an older three-wheeled shopping bike, donated by Mitch’s grandmother, which provides the stability.

Safety issues dictated specific designs elements as well. The back of the bike features a “grab bar” that can be used to slow the bike down. The chain and brakes are all encased in metal to prevent injuries from moving parts. The brake system works on a lever that can be easily accessed. The bike was designed to be rugged and take a lot of wear and tear so that it will require very little maintenance.

Aesthetically, the bike looks great! It definitely has that element of cool. Its sits low; its lines are long and sleek. When riding on it you feel as though you are riding on a chopper-style motorcycle. Mitch adds, “Everyone who has seen it at the school wants one. Cody’s mom even gave it a spin and loved it.”

Everyone agrees that the project was a huge success. As a student, Mitch learned how “so much attention needs to be paid to small details when designing.” He remembers that the newly acquired tube bending machine took a while to master in order “to learn how to bend the frame and keep the lines consistent.”

Department head Mike Mol, who taught the class and led the students through the project, explained that it reinforced the idea “that when you can perform a skill well, you automatically build safety and strength into the finished product.”

Principal Anne Otonicar says the project “enabled the students to use their skills and ideas to do something special for someone else…and to make a real difference in the life of another person.”

Kudos to everyone who played a role in the “Cody Bike Project”.

Cody’s mom and dad will be on stage today with him at Sydenham High School when he is presented with the bike at noon in the auditorium. Both Mitch and Mr. Mol will be presenting the bike to him and are pretty sure what kind of reaction they will get.

And just in case you read this article and happen to run into Cody before noon ….Shhhhhh….mum’s the word.

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