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Hambrook Primary School: Lily-Grace Needs Her Long, White Cane at School!

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I am writing this petition on behalf of the Hooper family. Lily-Grace Hooper, seven years old, has been banned from using her long, white cane at school. Her blindness occurred due to a stroke that she suffered just a few days after she was born. A mobility officer did a "risk" assessment and deemed that it was unsafe on the basis that other students and teachers might trip over it. A white cane accomplishes many tasks for a blind user. It identifies the user as having limited or no eyesight. It also allows the user to locate obstacles in their path, get information about their surroundings, and facilitates independent travel of the user. It is an essential tool that allows the user to function equally to sighted peers. It is important that those who are determined to be blind at an early age begin to use the white cane as soon as possible. Using it facilitates the child's functional and social independence so that they are able to do the same things their sighted peers are doing . It also allows their cognitive skills to continue to develop normally so that they do not start to exhibit cognitive or developmental delays. The school is insisting that an adult act as a human guide for Lily-Grace during 100% of the time she is at school. This would not be acceptable for her sighted peers and it should be just as unacceptable for her. Blindness does not equate with a lack of intelligence. Access to her cane will allow Lily-Grace the same opportunities to learn, grow, and develop her independence that her peers are getting. This also leaves Lily-Grace vulnerable in an emergency situation. There are many reasons why well-meaning adults might not be able to follow through with promises to oversee her safety and well-being. Other children who can see will be able to move away from a potentially dangerous situation. Without her cane to gain information about her surroundings, Lily-Grace will not be able to move freely or safely as she tries to help herself. The "health and safety" issue here is not with the other children, who can see and will learn to give Lily-Grace the space she needs to safely navigate. It is with how you can justify leaving a child at a vulnerable disadvantage. Since it is not safe for her to be at school sans her cane, Lily-Grace is missing school and lots of learning opportunities, but it is a sacrifice that must be made. In the United States, hundreds of blind students make their way to, through, and from school with white canes in hand on a daily basis. The sooner Hambrook School agrees to allow Lily-Grace and her cane at school, the sooner everyone can move forward. A white cane is a positive tool of blindness and should be respected, as the rights of the user should be. 

The writer of this petition is also a cane traveler. I use a white cane during nearly 100% of my travels. I would be devastated if I had to depend on someone else to offer human guide for every place I had to go. My cane has helped me travel to school, to work, to meetings, to the grocery store to shop for my family, and everywhere in between. I have flown on three separate occasions and a white cane (or two) has accompanied me for every trip. I have never had anyone to become injured as a result of me being careless with my cane. I take pride in my travel skills and always use situational awareness and a high level of alertness any time that I am traveling. Lily-Grace is doing this already and will continue to refine her own skills... but only if she is given the chance. As a blind citizen as an an educator of blind students, I implore you to welcome Lily-Grace... and her cane... with open arms. 



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