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Updated 10:00 AM June 21, 2004



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Camper Travar Pettway is lifted 22 feet off the ground into a new tree house at Trail's Edge Camp for Ventilator-Dependent Children at Fowler Center in Mayville, Mich. The tree house was constructed especially for kids who use wheelchairs and ventilators. The Craig Van Laanen Tree House and Woodland Retreat—the first-of-its-kind—was named in memory of a C.S. Mott Children's Hospital respiratory therapist. It was dedicated June 6. "For kids who are confined to either a bed or wheelchair, they need a place where they can feel a sense of freedom, enjoy nature, express themselves socially and escape the challenges of their everyday lives," says Mary Buschell, Trail's Edge Camp director and a respiratory care therapist at Mott. To get the project started, Buschell and other Trail's Edge volunteers enlisted the help of A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning lecturer Kristine Synnes to design and construct the tree house. She worked with then-graduate students Cathy Maurer and Mark Weston and assistant professor of architecture Peter von Buelow to create a sturdy house that would not disturb the natural surroundings. Contributions from the Christopher Reeve Foundation, the Philoptochos of the Greek Orthodox Church and Craig Van Laanen Foundation—totaling $110,000—made the tree house project possible. To learn more about Trail's Edge Camp, visit (Photo by Trail's Edge Camp)

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