May 11, 2018

Washington nonprofit offers bike rides for elderly and disabled community members

Get inspired by these three stories of innovation and ingenuity across America

Sequim Wheelers founder Nicole Lepping “pilots” an adaptive bike during a recent training session in Maine with the Portland Wheelers. In the wheelchair is Leilani Sundt, a Sequim Wheelers board member, and behind her is bike safety Doug Malcolm of the Portland Wheelers. Photo courtesy of Nicole Lepping

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions individuals and organizations are creating in their communities. Want to share a story from your hometown? Email us at

Biking without boundaries: Just because someone is confined to a wheelchair is no reason he or she shouldn’t enjoy the benefits of a relaxing bike ride. That’s the idea behind the Sequim Wheelers, a new Washington-based nonprofit launched in December with the aim of providing free bike rides along the Olympic Discovery Trail for wheelchair bound citizens living in Sequim. Rides will be provided via an adapted wheelchair bike, piloted by trained volunteers. The group hopes to eventually have a fleet of the specialized bikes in action. The Wheelers plan a full-scale launch of the service in July, following the enlistment and safety training of the volunteer pilots. The nonprofit’s founder Nicole Lepping said the organization is currently raising funds for insurance, training, and other expenses before they can begin their first rides. For more information, visit or contact Lepping at

Maker lab spurs student innovation: Take an old-school woodshop and turn it into a shiny new 2,000-square foot complex, complete with 3D printers, a laser-cutter, hand tools, and electronic components, and you have a ready-made formula for a “maker lab,” a place where hands-on innovation is encouraged and thrives. Woodstock Union High School/Middle School in Woodstock, Vermont, did just that when it unveiled its new “innovation lab” this month. Students have already created kinetic creatures from cardboard, using laser cutters, software and a motor, while others have worked on stop-action animated films. “We want kids to feel they can do things and make things happen,” Principal Garon Smail told the Mountain Times. The lab is adaptive to any curriculum. “The lab isn’t a separate class. The lab is a place where any student who has a strength in any subject area can make solutions come to life,” Curriculum Coordinator Jennifer Stainton, told the newspaper.

Igniting Social Entrepreneurship: The Ignite Retreat, sponsored by the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation, recently brought students together from across southeast North Carolina to “inspire social innovation and entrepreneurship.” Consisting of three “tracks” the retreat allowed students to delve into seminars for those still discovering their passions, those who have identified areas of interest and are working on becoming more involved and those who need help or inspiration in planning projects they’ve already identified. Students learn from entrepreneurs from a variety of fields, each one specializing in motivating and inspiring others. “The Ignite Retreat offered an environment where I could express and explore my thoughts and passions with driven and diverse people,” Ethan Barry, a Mechanical Engineering student told The Campbell Times. “The combination of these factors allowed me to learn more about myself than what I expected. My key takeaway from Ignite is to find my passion and follow it fearlessly.”

Brock Meeks

Brock Meeks is a contributor to The Renewal Project.