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Aunt wants paralysed teen back in school

Aunt wants paralysed teen back in school


As thousands of students return to the nation’s classrooms next week, efforts are being made to ensure that one former student of the St Martin’s Secondary School is not left behind.{{more}}

Nereus Auguste, principal of the school, says the faculty there is willing to play its part in relation to Chauncey Resident Yanick Charles, who had to withdraw from school two years ago, when he fell from a tree, suffering an injury which left him paralysed from the waist down.

The principal told SEARCHLIGHT that as long as the necessary arrangements are in place, the school would be happy to accommodate the young man, who had started his secondary school education in September 2009.

Yanick’s situation came to light earlier this week, when his aunt Janice made a public plea for her nephew to be allowed to re-enter the education system, as well as for personal assistance for the 14-year-old lad.

SEARCHLIGHT visited the family on Wednesday, when it was disclosed that Yanick’s formal education was cut short on May 2, 2010.

“He was going on the mango tree to pick a mango, and he fell down. After he fell down, he was unconscious….,” Janice recounted.

Yanick spent months at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital at times with the support of a body brace to keep him upright.

He received medical assistance from foreign doctors, who performed various surgeries, and after about a year, he was in better condition.

Another year has passed, and Yanick and his relatives are hoping to have him continue his secondary school education.

Janice said that following his rehabilitation, the family sought to have him return to the education system, but despite pleas to the Ministry of Education, which were supported by a report from the school’s former principal Father Richard Paynter, they are yet to receive a favourable response.

“I spoke with CP (Carlton Hall, Senior Education Officer) and I spoke to Mrs [Nicole] Bonadie Baker (Permanent Secretary)… they say come back and come back; the mother went back how many times. They say the other schools don’t have any ramp and there was not another call from the ministry, “Janice told SEARCHLIGHT.

“….We even ask if they could send work from school for him, but nobody ever do anything,” his aunt continued.

Yanick’s mother Jayland and other family members say they are willing to do whatever is necessary, in order to afford him the opportunity to further his education.

Jayland said that her temporary job at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital would allow her to be with him at school if necessary, since she begins work at 7 p.m.

The soft spoken youngster, who turns 15 on November 22 this year, says that he would love to return to school as soon as possible; hopefully St Martin’s, but he would be willing to attend any school that would accommodate him.

Auguste, however, admitted that currently, there are a number of challenges that need to be overcome in order to accommodate Yanick at St Martin’s. One of these includes the absence of wheelchair accessible classrooms.

“That is our challenge at St Martin’s…. however, our biggest problem is that our classrooms begin at the first level, not the ground floor….” Auguste said of the three-storey building.

The principal pointed out that accessing bathroom facilities will also be a challenge for the young man, but as long as there are persons on hand, willing to assist with taking him to and from the facility, there should be no problem.

As to which class Yanick would resume his studies from, should the opportunity arise, principal Augiste suggested that a preliminary assessment would have to be made to determine where he might commence.

“….Maybe some diagnostic assessment is needed, and from that we are going to make a determination and also some recommendation…. He may be good enough for form 3, but I would suggest he begin an after school program or some other program,” the principal offered.

Yanick says that he feels bad that he is no longer able to walk, but looks forward to the day when he can do so again.

“I would like to do the things that kids would do, like run around, but not climb trees,” he joked.

A few years before the 2010 accident, Yanick fell from a tree and broke his arm.

He told SEARCHLIGHT that his favourite subjects are math, English A and B, science and Information Technology, and that he would love to be a teacher in the future.

In the meantime, the family is appealing for assistance to acquire certain items that would make the young man’s life more comfortable.

His aunt says that she believes her nephew will one day walk again, but whether or not it is possible, she would love to see him receive a formal secondary education.

“If he goes back to school that would help to boost him up, but when school opens next week and he sees everybody else going to school and he just sitting there… He has a good brain.”

Repeated efforts by SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday to speak with Ministry of Education officials, including Baker and Hall proved futile.

The only secondary school that currently has wheelchair accessible ramps is the Girls’ High School, which at one time accommodated a physically disabled student. The ramps were constructed through the Ministry of Education, with assistance from the Ministry of National Mobilization and Social Development. Other arrangements were put in place to facilitate the student.