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July 16, 2003

FFA chapters awarded for helping people with disabilities

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Three Indiana FFA chapters were recognized for completing projects that made a positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities. Their efforts were part of the Bridging Horizons FFA Contest, sponsored by the Breaking New Ground Outreach Program at Purdue University and the Indiana State Office of Rural Health.

The West Washington FFA chapter of Campbellsburg, Ind., completed several projects to win the $500 grand prize. They constructed a deck and wheelchair ramp to help a community member achieve greater independence. A wheelchair-accessible bridge also was constructed for better access to the school's baseball field, and chapter members continued the previous year's project of building and distributing wheelchair-accessible picnic tables to schools, individuals and parks.

The Brownstown Central FFA Chapter in Brownstown, Ind., took second place and $250 for their wheelchair obstacle course to be used at the Jackson County Fair. The course is designed to educate the general public about the daily challenges faced by wheelchair users.

The McCutcheon FFA Chapter in Lafayette, Ind., placed third and received $100 for helping a person with a disability move around outside his home safely. A concrete sidewalk was poured between the person's home and garage. Before, the individual would frequently fall when walking on the uneven ground.

"The purpose of this contest is to build awareness about people with disabilities, especially farmers, and also to work with individuals to overcome barriers, making things easier for them," said Steve Swain, Breaking New Ground's rural rehabilitation specialist.

Indiana FFA members are challenged to make work sites, homes and public places more accessible for people with disabilities.

"Chapter members are getting the experience of serving others in the community and learning more about what living with a disability is like," said Paul Jones, manager of the Breaking New Ground Resource Center.

Breaking New Ground is a program within Purdue's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. The program offers services and resources for persons with disabilities working in agriculture.

For more information on Breaking New Ground and the Bridging Horizons contest, visit http://www.breakingnewground.info.

Writer: Michelle Betz, (765) 494-8402, agnews-stories@purdue.edu

Sources: Paul Jones, (765) 494-1221, jonesp@purdue.edu

Steve Swain, (765) 494-5088, swainsj@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/


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