Don't mollycoddle us

6th May 2005 at 01:00
Greg Judge, 15, is taking eight GCSEs at the Westwood school technology college in Coventry. He has been paralysed from the chest down following complications in a spine-straightening operation when he was 7. He uses a wheelchair and is doubly incontinent.

"I had my operation when I was in Year 3 and came back to primary school in Year 4. It was easy to slot back in. But after a while most of my friends stopped asking me round. I did have dinner with one about once a week.

In senior school there was an even bigger divide between me and the other kids. The school near my house said it couldn't take me. So there is a big detour and extra expense. I can understand it. I think it's also that I've always been more mature. My operation was a life-changing event.

Teachers treat me like everybody else. But with assistants it's more difficult. They talk to me like a pupil, whereas I think it's a client-carer relationship: they don't educate me, they do personal care and mobility. I think we should be on an equal level. They don't agree.

I've only been on one school trip. I wasn't allowed on the rides so I sat in my wheelchair the whole day. The school tries to include me in PE but it's difficult. If we play rounders I just hit the ball, I can't go round the pitch. I don't feel comfortable participating that way.

I think schools need to accept people like me as we are. Don't try and mollycoddle us, because you're creating as big a divide as if you were openly horrible. Make special arrangements for us, but do it so nobody notices: so we're not like a glowing red dot in the middle of a sea of black ones."

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