Disability ?no barrier? for Jenaya at Prep School
By SAM BENGERsamb@gladstoneobserver.com.au
JENAYA Ehret has never seen the smile on her Mum's face or told her how much she loves her, but that doesn't stop the sprightly five-year-old from expressing her feelings in other ways.
Jenaya has Leber's Congenital Amaurosis, a condition in which she was born completely blind and has no language skills.
But since beginning Prep Year at Ubobo State School this year, Jenaya has come ahead in leaps and bounds.
'She wandered off the other day and I was calling out 'Jenaya, Jenaya', and she was hiding in the bushes and she said 'Mamma' ? it was just so, oh it was absolutely wonderful, for others it's such a small thing, but for us it was huge,' Jenaya's Mum, Monica said.
Mrs Ehret said it was difficult when Jenaya was a baby, not being able to have eye contact with her parents and understand her surroundings in the same way other children did, but now that she was interacting with students at school she was becoming much easier to handle and happier at home.
'We're very lucky to have the community support here ? I think in a big city other children would be scared of a blind child, but here no one shies away because they've all grown up together, so if someone has a birthday party, Jenaya is always invited ? there's not the stigma of being disabled as there would be in a big city,' she said.
Ubobo State School principal Margaret Pengelly said it had been a challenge to incorporate learning goals for Jenaya, but the whole school had got behind her.
'Jenaya has a teacher-aide with her all the time, but the students are getting a lot better at helping her with language, which is obviously the biggest goal,' she said.
Mrs Pengelly said the school was like 'one big family' and the students looked out for one another like brothers and sisters.