Mar 252012
 
Authors: Austin Briggs

In many ways Kennedy is your typical 6-year-old. His best friend is his grandfather, and he loves and adores his older sister Kelsey and her dog Bailey. His favorite sports team is the Colorado Eagles hockey team.

Unlike most 6-year-olds, Kennedy has epilepsy.

And this past weekend as well as the next, volunteers from CSU’s Construction Cares program will build a ramp and two step stools to assist Kennedy in daily activities.

CM Cares is a community service organization that donates time and resources to upgrading the homes of people with special needs.

At the age of 21 months, Kennedy had brain surgery in order to help stop the severity of his epileptic seizures. Kennedy’s complex medical condition has compromised normal development in many areas.

Kennedy’s mom, Megan Murphy, said the first four years of Kennedy’s life were very turbulent and life threatening. Kennedy’s health has stabilized the last two years, which has allowed him to begin catching up on many of the basic motor skills he lacked.

Kennedy is a very busy young man. Between weekly speech and occupational therapy sessions, he stays hard at work in physical therapy learning to walk, throw, climb and develop motor skills.

Murphy said the step stools will allow Kennedy to safely move up and down when he accesses areas he uses daily.

Murphy said their family is thrilled at being able to work with the CM cares program.

“They are all so enthusiastic,” Murphy said. “We’re totally excited. The project will help Kennedy stay safe as he gets older. ”

CM Cares, established in spring 2011, is a service learning program designed to infuse the traits of community service, leadership, team building and ethics throughout the culture of the CM program through construction-related community service projects.

Senior construction management student and Kennedy project team member Michelle Meis said the CM Cares program not only instills its students with leadership skills and community activism, but just as importantly, it provides a much-needed service to people in the community with special needs who may not be able to afford or plan a home improvement project without assistance.

Murphy said she has had a dream list for home improvements that would help Kennedy get around for a long time. She said that once the step stools are installed, Kennedy will be able to practice his physical therapy exercises more at home.

“That’s my favorite part of the job, being part of a program that can help others that may have difficulty getting a project started,” Meiss said. “We’re able to help a family on a day-to-day basis.”

Construction management senior Allie Parker said her time as a project coordinator last fall was an invaluable experience. Most commercial construction projects take months or years to finish. Parker said working on a CM Cares project offers students a rare opportunity to see a job done from start to finish.

She said working closely with professionals in the industry was a chance to take what she learned in the classroom into the field.

“The people in the construction industry are hard-working professionals who take their jobs seriously. But they’re also really generous,” Parker said. “I’m young and still learning. They took the time to work with me, and it was a great experience.”

Murphy said she and Kennedy’s dad are both CSU alumni, and it came as no surprise to her that CSU offered a program like CM Cares.

“This is one of the best communities we have ever lived in,” Murphy said. “Everybody is genuinely willing to help.”

Collegian writer Austin Briggs can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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