Thursday, 15 November 2012

You'll Never Walk Alone




I am proud to call Canadian Supreme Court Justice Rosie Abella a friend.  A few days ago, I was watching the television news when a story about a disability rights case in British Columbia caught my attention.  The case dated back to the 1990's and involved a young lad called Jeffrey Moore who, by the time he finished grade three, still could not read.  Jeffrey didn't even know the alphabet on account of his severe dyslexia.  Jeffrey's parents sued the province of British Columbia for the cost of private tuition that they were forced to purchase when the public system denied special education assistance for young Jeffrey.  It has taken all these years for the case to reach the Supreme Court, but when it did, Rosie wrote the judgement.  "Adequate special education, therefore, is not a dispensable luxury.  For those with severe learning disabilities, it is the ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to all children in British Columbia." (CTV News Story HERE)

When I saw that story on the news, I wrote to this note to Rosie:

Dear Rosie,

I just wanted to write to tell you how thrilled I am about the ruling that was announced today.  As you can imagine, I was chatting about this ruling with all my friends in the parent movement - we are all thrilled for all the children of the future who will benefit from equal access to a good education.
I wanted to share with you that Nicholas had a great experience in High School.  He attended Notre Dame High School and everyone there from the principal to Nick's aide were absolutely fantastic.  In June, 2005, Senator Jim Munson handed Nicholas a cheque for $1,000 and a "Spirit of the Capital Youth Award for Academic Perseverance".  


Nick wrote this acceptance speech which his aide read to the audience at the Congress Centre awards ceremony:

I would like to thank all the members of The Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards committee for this award.  This award makes me both happy and proud.  I am proud of my school, my teachers and my friends for working together to help me achieve academic success at Notre Dame High School.  I am proud of my family: Mom, Dad, Natalie, for their unfailing love and support.  I am also proud of myself for always trying my best.  I thought that I would share with you my secrets of perseverance.  Talking about pain or ongoing challenges is very boring to me.  I would choose having fun and learning at school over sitting home and complaining any day.  I will never give up in school because, frankly, I am just too curious and excited to find out what is going to happen next in each of my classes.  Some people call this approach having a positive attitude; I call it wanting to express my opinions.  I have opinions in my personal life, my school, my community and my country.  And if I want people to hear my opinions, I know I have to be involved.  I know how to find information about my interests and how to use that information.  I AM NEVER BORED!  My advice to other students is to keep trying, even if it takes a long time to achieve academically.  The world is far more interesting if you know something about it.  At times we all face some difficulties, but it is important to remember to never give up and never give in.  Thank you all, and good luck. 

Then Nick's aide read the words to the song of Nick's favourite English soccer team, Liverpool - You'll Never Walk Alone.

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark

At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark

At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk

You'll never walk
You'll never walk alone.

Today at the Remembrance Day ceremony, we were standing beside Jim Munson and reminiscing about this great day in Nicholas' life.  Nick's access to an adapted curriculum gave him the skills to go on to study pre-college courses online at the Open University in the UK and then to start an Ebay selling business.  He loves his life.

Love, 
Donna

It was a coincidence that we ran into Senator Jim Munson at the Remembrance Day Ceremony.  He recalled Nicholas very well and together, we talked about the Supreme Court ruling that gives all children the right to equal access to the curriculum, regardless of learning disability.  I am proud to call Rosie Abella a friend and I'm proud to live in a democratic country with equality and rule of law.



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