Lauren Beck already knows the first phrases she’s going to program into NOVA Chat once the software is uploaded to her tablet: all the character names from “Ranger’s Apprentice,” her favorite book series.
The 14-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, will receive the software from Assistive Technology Partners (ATP), a program of the College of Engineering & Applied Science (CEAS) and the CU School of Medicine at CU Denver | Anschutz. She’s been coming to ATP for assistive technology (AT) to help with mobility and communication since she was 7, but as of Sept. 12, she’s coming to a new address.
With both financial and hands-on contributions from members of Colorado’s construction industry, as well as the support of CEAS Dean Marc Ingber, PhD, and Bioengineering Chair Robin Shandas, PhD, ATP moved from its location on 18th Avenue to a newly renovated space on the CU Denver campus.
“We’re excited to be here and have space on both the CU Denver and CU Anschutz campuses,” said ATP Executive Director Cathy Bodine, PhD, CCC-SLP.
Part of the community
ATP’s new space includes nearly 3,000 square feet in the 5th Street Hub building, as well as 2,500 square feet of office space in the Auraria Campus Administration Building across the street. In addition to hosting the AT clinic for clients, the space will provide research and engineering workspace for ATP’s bioengineering students.
The new location and its nearby onsite parking offer increased accessibility for both clients and students, whether they’re walking, taking Light Rail or arriving in a mobility accessible vehicle. On the first day the office was open, one client described the new space as “awesome,” and at least one CU student simply wandered in and asked how to get involved in the program.
“We feel more a part of the university community now,” Bodine said.
Stepping up and helping out
For its new digs, ATP has many players in the Colorado construction industry to thank. For more than a decade, a group of industry professionals, rallied by CU alumnus Bill Caile, has been fundraising for ATP at an annual event called Déjà vu Rendezvous. From these efforts, they raised close to $250,000 for Hub renovations and contributed another $100,000 in in-kind services and materials.
While Haselden Construction worked on the space in the Administration Building, Saunders Construction managed the three-month-long Hub renovation project.
“I give credit to everyone who helped,” said Bob Wade, Saunders’ department manager, who served as project manager. “We had 25 contractors working for us, donating time and materials. At a time when construction is extremely busy in the Denver market, these people stepped up and helped out.”
To date, Wade, Caile and the rest of the philanthropic group have raised a total of nearly $2 million for ATP, funding an endowed professorship, a bioengineering endowment and a student scholarship.
“At ATP, they help people with disabilities live better lives,” Wade said, “and we feel they deserve the help.”
Dreams for the future
The new space marks a major milestone for a program that began 20 years ago with a single grant and four people.
“We’re the only program that brings together assistive technology, engineering and medicine,” said Bodine, who has managed the program since the beginning.
Next up on the ATP program goal list are expanded academic offerings in AT, new AT outcomes research and more overall AT research at CU Denver | Anschutz. Bodine dreams of an ATP program with a financially stable future.
Lauren, meanwhile, dreams of convincing her parents to take her to the Netherlands for the annual “Ranger’s Apprentice” conference—where she’ll be able to talk to everyone there about her favorite books.
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