High schoolers build custom sandboxes for boy, 6

Barry County

MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — A 6-year-old Middleville boy whose life changed forever one year ago has a brand new gift thanks to a group of local high school students. 

In May 2018, Nate Boersma was in a terrible car crash that left him paralyzed. Since then, he has fought hard to recover and learn to adjust to life in a wheelchair as a kindergartner at McFall Elementary.

“He has grown so much as a kid, as a student and as a friend, and we’re so proud of him here,” Mike VandenBerg, a physical therapist with the Kent Intermediate School District, told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday.

Along the way, Nate has gotten some help from an unexpected group: the woodworking class at Thornapple Kellogg High School.

“We are always there for one another and we’re willing to help, no matter what,” sophomore Owen Adams said.

That’s why the group of high schoolers recently built Nate a customized toy: a sandbox designed especially for him. It’s elevated a few feet off the ground so Nate, in his wheelchair, can easily play with toy dump trucks and build mountains. The students made him one for school and one for home.

“Nate looks up to these kids and like, ‘Wow, high schoolers did this for me?’ And it’s really neat,” VandenBerg said.

For Nate, the sandboxes are so much more than just cool toys: They’re another chance to just be a regular kid.

For the teenagers who made them, the class project was a lesson in life.

“It really makes me grateful for all the blessings I have now, and he doesn’t have the opportunities that we do,” freshman Collin Wright said. “Just for him to get something, even a sandbox, it’s just awesome.”

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