New Partnerships for Ramp Up Projects Aim to Build More Ramps

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COLUMBIA -A non-profit group specializing in helping the disabled worked with three new partners for the first time Friday to build a home ramp.

The event is part of the "Ramp Up" program by Services for Independent Living (SIL), and coordinators say the new partnerships will hopefully provide more ramps to people in need.

The three new partnerships are the MU School of Health Professions, MU's student veterans internship program, called Operation STEVE, and Lowe's Home Improvement Center.

Ramp Up provides about 40 ramps a year to people with disabilities. SIL marketing director Heather Stewart said more getting volunteers could increase that number by eight to 10.

"It's going to allow us to be able to possibly build more ramps because we'll have some volunteer power which is the most expensive part of building a ramp," Stewart said.

Melissa Everitt, of the MU School of Health Professions, said in addition to seeing people benefit from the ramps, there are many other plusses.

"This is the first time we've done anything like this," Everitt said. "This is a unique partnership and so it helps our students become familiar with student veterans, and it helps the student veterans get a sense of giving back and still be able to continue to serve in their community after coming back from war."

Everitt said it also helps health professions students get real experience out in the community.

"It's good for our students to do partnerships like this and actually see who their patients are going to be in the future when they actually get a job," Everitt said.

Stewart said while the ramps might seem like a small service, they have a big impact for people with disabilities. She said they allow individuals to leave their home and participate in outside activities.

She said one person the group build a ramp for lost 80 pounds, because she was actually able to get out of her house to do activities.

Jeff Mosley is an intern with Operation STEVE and said he really enjoyed helping build a wheelchair ramp at a home in Columbia.

"It makes me feel good helping the community and giving back and also sharing that experience with others," Mosley said.

Stewart said, as the program generates more partnerships, it hopes to be able to build as many as ten ramps in a day.