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Paralysed teen to return to classroom at a date to be announced

Paralysed teen to return to classroom at a date to be announced

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A 14-year-old boy who has missed classes for the last two years, after being paralysed in an accident, will return to school soon.{{more}}

Chief Education Officer Lou-Anne Gilchrist, at a press conference yesterday, apologised to the family of Yanick Charles for the delay in having him reintegrated into the school system.

She, however, said Charles’ family could have done more to help the process at the initial stage.

Charles had hope to return to the St Martin’s Secondary School, but the teenager, who uses a wheelchair, will soon enrol at the Buccament Bay Secondary School.

Gilchrist said steps have been taken to accommodate Charles at the school, located on the leeward coast, about 10 minutes drive from his village.

“We have asked the principal to move her second form from the first floor onto the ground floor, and she has done that,” Gilchrist explained.

She said the principal has informed education officials that whatever adjustments are needed to the physical structure of the school to facilitate Charles’ access to the washroom facilities will be done.

“We are waiting for Yanick’s mom to bring us some documentation attesting to his physical fitness, because we do have to ensure that we get that medical report from his doctor, so that we can safely accommodate Yanick at school”, Gilchrist further said.

She added that while education officials need to provide for the student’s academic development, they do not want to endanger him.

She further said the student “will also have some sanitary needs for which private arrangements will have to be made”.

Gilchrist said it was unfortunate that Charles’ family had “let the discussions fall.

“They told us when we invited them in … that they were waiting for us. So, I made the point to Yanick’s mom that we deal with almost 30,000 students. Not that any student is less important than another, but that it was incumbent upon them as a parent to maintain the contact with us, so that we can get Yanick back into school,” Gilchrist said.

“So, it was not a matter that Yanick was being disadvantaged deliberately; it was a matter that the issue was allowed to drop.”

Charles’ formal education was interrupted in May 2010, when he fell from a mango tree, resulting in paralysis from the waist down.

His relatives, led by his aunt, Janice Charles, have been trying to have him returned to the classroom.

New hope

After the education official’s statement yesterday, Janice and Yanick expressed hope in the new developments.

“His mother was supposed to take the (wheelchair) measurements and the doctor’s report to them today,” Janice told SEARCHLIGHT by telephone.

“Everybody feeling good; we just waiting for the time to go back,” she said.

Asked how he felt about not returning to St Martin’s, whose physical structure would not accommodate him, Yanick said the Buccament Bay school was “alright still” and that he was just glad to go back to school.

Yanick would not be the only member of his household enrolled at the Buccament Bay School.

His 12-year-old sister Grishna is a Form 1 student there and he has a cousin in Form 4.

Yanick will enter at Form 2, at a date to be announced.

Gilchrist pointed out that Yanick, though behind on academic work, would receive assistance that would bring him up to par with the other students, as best as possible.

“I assure you that the principal and the teachers of the Buccament Bay Secondary School will provide for Yanick’s academic need; the principal herself is trained in literacy; she will ensure that a programme is developed for Yanick to ensure that he ensures a standard which is necessary,” Gilchrist said. (JJ)

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