Team Noah: Community Support For Securing An Accessible Van

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By Ken Dobo
As someone with an interest in documentary filmmaking, knowing ways to tell someone’s story is part of how I see the world. From artists to activists, sports figures to musicians, I have encountered many compelling stories over the years. Sometimes my work is through artistic expression and sometimes I help spread information about organizations or document conferences and events. In the past year I have had the chance to get to know an amazing story about an Athens resident. His name is Noah Trembly.  
As someone who works in the unit of Communication Sciences and Disorders, I meet a lot of people who have communication challenges. Noah faces challenges, but does not fit the bill of “disorders”.  He meets the challenge of his communication through hard work and by educating himself about the very technology that helps him to communicate. I have witnessed his work and have even helped him to educate and to tell his story. It has been an inspirational experience and also one that has allowed me to see how his example can inspire others. 
Most of us take communication for granted. Texting, email, writing and speaking, along with cell phone pics and videos, even the plain old spoken word, communication tools surround us seemingly at every turn. What would life be like if these ubiquitous tools, even our very voice, went missing? No longer available to us… vanished. Life as we understand it, our relationships and daily functioning, would be dramatically different. What if you were unable to walk… and had to depend on a device known as an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device for communication and a motorized wheelchair and accessible van for movement?  Noah Trembly is in precisely this situation.  
In 2012 Trembly began working at Ohio University with Dr. John McCarthy’s AAC laboratory. He began working doing classroom presentations, and producing videos relating to accessibility issues. Soon Noah started taking classes at Ohio working towards a bachelors degree. This was around the same time a group of university and community members joined together to form, “Team Noah,” a support and advocacy group who meet weekly to strategize and act on ways to support Noah’s efforts. 
Last year a massive social media campaign took place garnering Noah thousands of votes in an online contest to win a new wheelchair accessible van. Sadly Noah was unable to secure the top spot; however, as his need for transportation has increased and his current 1999 Ford van is pushing past 100,000 miles. Noah, along with the Team, has launched a gofundme campaign, “Keep Noah Rolling” to raise funds to purchase a new vehicle! 
To follow the progress of the "Keep Noah Rolling" campaign, follow his Facebook page.