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Sunday 15 September 2019
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[UPDATED] Cerebral palsy student passes 6 CSEC subjects

Josiah Thomas of New Grant Secondary School during his graduation. Source: Dr Lovell Francis' facebook page.
Josiah Thomas of New Grant Secondary School during his graduation. Source: Dr Lovell Francis' facebook page.

WITH a broken leg and on a broken wheelchair, Josiah Thomas defied all odds to achieve remarkable success at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination.

Josiah, 18, who was born with Cerebral palsy with little chances of ever walking or talking, passed six subjects, with a grade one in information technology (IT).

Results were released on Friday night and his amazing triumph was posted on Facebook by Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis.

In his FB post, Francis wrote, “Everyone please join me in celebrating young Mr Josiah Thomas of New Grant, a student of Rio Claro East Secondary School.

“Josiah was diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy but through sheer grit, determination, hard work and the support of a loving and dedicated mother, he has graduated with six (yes six) subjects at CSEC, including a grade 1.

“Not even a broken leg suffered on the eve of these exams proved able to deter him. Congrats to Josiah, his mother, his student aid and the whole New Grant and Rio Claro East families.

“What a champion!”

Josiah attributed his success to the support of his parents Junior and Sharon Thomas, brother Anderson, staff and students at Rio Claro East Secondary School.

He said he went to school on a wheelchair which his mom “bandaged” with leather after he fell through the worn material. She travelled with him to and from their New Grant home to his Rio Claro school every day of the examination because the special bus which transported him, was down.

Sharon gave thanks and praise to God for her son's success. She said he has never seen himself as “different” and his family and peers also rallied around him to ensure that he was not treated as “not normal”

She said her son is determined to succeed and she knows that by God’s grace he will realise his goal.

Josiah is seeking to continue IT studies at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) level.

Josiah Thomas and his mother Sharon Thomas on his graduation day at Rio Claro East Secondary School.

In an interview yesterday, an elated Josiah said he was still trying to come to terms with his achievement.

“I was happy. I was elated. I was in a state of shock. I can’t even come up with the words to explain how I felt.”

He wrote subjects in mathematics, English A, integrated science, clothing and textile, principles of accounts and principles of business. He said he was not quite satisfied with his grades in English and maths and will rewrite those subjects with the aim of getting grade ones.

“I want a career in computers. I want to build a computer for on-line training with the intention of becoming an on-line trainer,” he said.

Speaking about his five years at Rio Claro East, Josiah stressed the importance of support for people with physical challenges.

He said in the beginning the transition was difficult, especially with transportation and getting to and from his classes, however, supporting peers and staff helped him to overcome that challenge.

“It was difficult at first, but it became pretty easy because everyone at school was willing to help. If I wanted to go to the library, I could call on one of my friends. If I had to go to the washroom one of my friends would push my wheelchair to the bathroom doors. I would get up walk to the washroom and my friends would push me back.”

Even during lunchtime when he remained in classes finishing his work because his hands are affected by his condition, Josiah said his friends brought his lunch to him.

Josiah Thomas on graduation day at Rio Claro East Secondary School. Photo: Dr Lovell Francis' facebook page.

“Even when I was not able to attend school, I would get notes from my friends.

“I also had expertise (school aide) help, but everyone in school treated me fairly, like how they would treat a “normal” person. They did not treat me different. I think this is responsible for my success.”

However, the support was not one way, as Josiah often assisted his peers who were not as proficient as he was in IT.

“In spite of my disability I was always willing to help others. People would often tell me or say to others, 'Josiah is so kind, he is so helpful'.”

His mother praised God for his achievement, pointing out that many children with physical abilities never achieve because they lack the support of parents and other dedicated people.

She said Josiah is an example of what a person can achieve if they only a chance.

“He is an amazing child. He is wonderful. He was diagnosed with CP at birth. Doctors told me he would not walk or talk, but you would not believe sometimes you have to tell Josiah to hush a little because he loves to talk. He walks a little because he does not have a proper balance.

“Unfortunately, he had a little accident where he recently fell and chipped a bone in his foot.

“His foot was in a cast during his entire exams. His wheelchair broke, the bus which transported him to school broke down, but we did not let that stop us. God saw us through.”

Sharon said she repaired the wheelchair which was donated to him and which he has been using since form one, with pieces of leather and took him by taxi to every exam, stayed with him until it was over and brought him back home.”

Josiah appealed to generous citizens for an electric powered wheelchair.

“Right now, I have a manually powered wheelchair which I have to push. But because of how my hands are (not perfectly structured) I can’t push myself forward for long periods. It is painful and I get bruising.

“I would really like one which is electronically powered which will be easier to move around and make me feel a lot more independent. I checked out the price of one and it was over $8,000. My parents cannot afford that, so we are using what we have to make it happen.

“As I continue with my education, I really need something new.”

This story has been updated with additional details. The original story is posted below.

WITH a broken leg and on a broken wheelchair, to which he is confined, Josiah Thomas defied all odds to achieve remarkable success at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination.

Thomas, 18, who was born with Cerebral palsy at birth and told that he would never walk or talk, passed six subjects, including a grade one in information technology (IT).

Results were released on Friday night and his amazing triumph was posted on Facebook by Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis, who is also Thomas’ MP.

In an interview on Saturday morning, Thomas attributed his success to the support of his parents, staff and students at Rio Claro East Secondary School.

He said he went to school in a wheelchair his mother Sharon “bandaged” with leather. She travelled with him to and from their New Grant home to his Rio Claro school every day of the examinations because the bus was down.

Sharon gave thanks and praise to God for his success. She said he has never seen himself as “different” and his family and peers also rallied around him to ensure that he was not treated as “not normal”

She said her son is determined to succeed and she knows that he will realise his goal.

Thomas is at the moment seeking to continue his studies in IT a the CAPE level and later pursue a career as a computer technician.

In his FB post, Francis wrote, “Everyone please join me in celebrating young Mr Josiah Thomas of New Grant, a student of Rio Claro East Secondary School.

“Josiah was diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy but through sheer grit, determination, hard work and the support of a loving and dedicated mother, he has graduated with six (yes six) subjects at CSEC, including a grade 1.

“Not even a broken leg suffered on the eve of these exams proved able to deter him. Congrats to Josiah, his mother, his student aid and the whole New Grant and Rio Claro East families.

“What a champion!”

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