Human Hamster Wheel Garners Global Attention

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A unique school project recently put Asher deGroot—a Dalhousie University student who attends All Nations Christian Reformed Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia—in the global media spotlight.

As part of a course requirement, deGroot and his Environmental Design classmates David Gallaugher, Kevin James, and Jacob Jebailey created a grass-lined wheel that deGroot likened to a human-size hamster wheel.

When the students tried out their prototype in downtown Halifax, some observers were awestruck, others simply laughed, while still others were angry at them for obstructing the sidewalk.

But when a professional photographer captured an image of the wheel, the story was picked up by the Associated Press and Canadian Press and covered in newspapers around the world.a

“It was shocking,” says deGroot. “Although we knew the image of the wheel was powerful, we didn’t think it would get much further than the local papers. It’s very satisfying to have something that you put so much work into get recognition and instant publication and response.”

DeGroot says the project taught him that promoting change can happen in any kind of work, including architecture. “For me, architecture is my ministry. It’s what I’m gifted at and what I love to do.”

The wheel, called “Walking the Park,” is described by deGroot as “an emission-free mode of transportation that young and old can enjoy and bring nature into their everyday lives.”

—Rachel Boehm Van Harmelen


About the Author

Rachel Boehm Van Harmelen is a writer and consultant specializing in communications for nonprofit organizations. She and her husband, Peter, have four children and live in Fall River, Nova Scotia, where they attend All Nations Christian Reformed Church

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