17 Nov 2015

Health and safety "gone mad": Blind Bristol girl banned from using walking cane in primary school

A blind girl has been banned from bringing her walking cane to school because of "health and safety" reasons.
Lily-Grace Hooper, who is seven, suffered a stroke when she was just four days old, which left her virtually blind.
But her school, Hambrook Primary School, has now told the youngster she can no longer use her walking cane because it could trip up teachers and other pupils at the school.
A risk assessment by Gary Learmonth from Sensory Support Service – done on behalf of the school – said the cane caused high risk to other people around Lily-Grace, and that she should instead have full adult support "100 per cent" at all times. 
But her furious mother is worried her daughter will become to dependent on having someone show her around, and said having a helper following her around will set her daughter apart from the rest of the pupils.
Lily-Grace suffered a stroke days after she was born. As a result she lost her 3D vision, and became blind in her right eye. She can now only see lights and colours in her left.
Shortly before Christmas last year, she started using long wrapping paper rolls to help her get around the house after stumbling across them. 
Lily-Grace using her cane for the first time.
Since then, she had asked her mum for a stick for Christmas. The seven-year-old was given a long fibre-glass walking cane by Common Sense Cane, a charity for blind children earlier this year.
She started using the cane in school in April. Kristy said it had become "an extension of her daughter's arm" and that it was vital she was allowed to use it.
She added: "It is a disability, but I want to celebrate it and make sure she can become independent.
"When the school told me she can no longer bring her cane into school, I just thought this must be health and safety gone mad.
"She hasn't had any problems with any of the other students, and none of the parents have complained about it – in fact, they have all been very supportive.
"I don't understand where the school is coming from. Lily-Grace has taken to the cane very quickly, and she needs it as she travels to school, walks to the playground, or just being in school."
She added: "I am absolutely livid. What about the health and safety of my girl? I like school, they are a good school, but this really is very poor advice.
"It's just ridiculous. If you took a walking cane away from a blind adult, you would say that was discrimination. It's the same here."
Lily-Grace, who still uses her cane outside school when she gets about, is also a keen ballet dancer with a group called Flamingo Chicks.
Kristy said she was reluctant to take Lily-Grace out Hambrook Primary because her daughter loved to go to school.
Sarah Murray, founder of Common Sense Canes, had taught her 13-year-old son Lucas to use a walking stick from a young age.

Read more: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Health-safety-gone-mad-Blind-Bristol-girl-banned/story-28185529-detail/story.html


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