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Simon sees a bright future

St Jude’s support network gives students with sight issues and other disabilities a chance.
Simon (right), with fellow classmates, is excited to be achieving thanks to the vision help he has received from our Medical Check Team and his teachers.
Simon (right), with fellow classmates, is excited to be achieving thanks to the vision help he has received from our Medical Check Team and his teachers.

Most students bend the rules to get the answers; Simon had to bend the rules just to get the questions.

Sitting in an overcrowded government school classroom, Simon could not get close enough to read the board and his teachers did not notice he had a vision problem.

The determined young scholar came up with ‘sneaky ways’ to make sure he didn’t fall behind.

“I did not ask for an answer but I had to ask ‘what’s the question?’. In class exercises I could not see on the board, but with the exams I could have the questions near,” he explained.

“When I was in public school, I was first in exams but I was last when it came to class exercises.”

Help received: Simon received his first glasses in Standard 2 (Grade 2) when he was at St Jude's, and he couldn't have been more appreciative.
Help received: Simon received his first glasses in Standard 2 (Grade 2) when he was at St Jude’s, and he couldn’t have been more appreciative.

Simon said the difference between his results would make teachers suspicious, and he did not want to think about what life would be like if he had not been enrolled at St Jude’s.

“If I failed (at school), I wouldn’t be here in Form 5. If I wasn’t here in Form 5, I wouldn’t be Rotaract Vice-President and I wouldn’t be the Discipline Prefect,” he said.

“Glasses have made a very big difference – it’s a very small thing that can make a very big difference. They have allowed me to participate in a lot of stuff, and work towards achieving my goals.”

Simon said the attitude at St Jude’s also improved his confidence.

Annual check: Simon was one of 12 vision-impaired students who went to the optometrists with the Medical Check team this month.
Annual check: Simon was one of 12 vision-impaired students who went to the optometrists with the Medical Check team this month.

“When I came to St Jude’s I felt freedom,” he said.

“It was a different system – it was more accommodating. If I couldn’t see a question, I go for it, I would go to the front (of class) to check on the board.

“My teachers realised, and here they were friendly and concerned and did something about it. They questioned why it was happening.”

Once the teachers noticed a problem with Simon’s sight he was referred to the Medical Check Team, a group of international doctors who volunteer at St Jude’s each year.

Helping hands: This year's international Medical Check Team continued the long tradition of providing much-appreciated help to St Jude's students.
Helping hands: This year’s international Medical Check Team continued the long tradition of providing much-appreciated help to St Jude’s students.

The Medical Check Team has had a long history at St Jude’s, following up concerns raised by teachers and providing the expertise needed to diagnose conditions.

In March, the 2016 team of 15 medical professionals spent two weeks at St Jude’s to ensure our students were healthy.

Simon was among a group of 12 students with vision problems who the team members took to an optometrist in town. Additional requirements for follow-up equipment or treatment for the students is usually arranged through their parents.

This year marked the first time members of the Medical Check Team provided mentorship to St Jude’s graduates who are interested in becoming doctors.

Seeing a bright future: Standard 1 (Grade 1) students had their vision checked by the team this year.
Seeing a bright future: Standard 1 (Grade 1) students had their vision checked by the team this year.

See the important work the Medical Check Team are doing at St Jude’s in this video. Find out how you can contribute here.

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