THE story of Josiah Thomas, who defied the odds to achieve success in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams, although he has cerebral palsy, is continuing to inspire and motivate others.
Josiah, 18, was hoping to start his studies in information technology (IT) at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) level this term, but has suffered a setback. He first has to bring up his grades in English Language and maths before he is accepted to do CAPE, so that dream has been put on hold for another year.
In an interview yesterday, Josiah said he is not daunted by this.
“It does not hold me back from achieving my dreams,” said Josiah, who has ambitions of a career in computers. “It will take a little longer than I anticipated, but I am determined to do better and get all grade ones this time around.”
He is awaiting acceptance at his alma mater, Rio Claro East Secondary School, to repeat studies in maths, English and accounts.
The young man shot into the spotlight last month when Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis took to his Facebook page to congratulate Josiah on his amazing triumph of passing six subjects at CSEC.
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.”
He sat maths, English A, integrated science, clothing and textile, principles of accounts and principles of business – with a broken leg and in a broken wheelchair.
Josiah’s story of triumph over adversity was carried on many local media – radio, television and print.
He said since then, many people have reached out to him and his family offering congratulations and assistance, among them, Sagicor Life Inc. He also received a new wheelchair.
Last week, Sagicor Life Inc unit manager Wayne Mohammed, of the Joel Martinez branch, and employee Mina Rampersad, touched by Josiah’s story, went to his home to present him and his mother Sharon Thomas with a cheque to help in his continuing education.
Robert Trestrail, executive vice president and general manager of Sagicor, said, “This donation is an important component of Sagicor’s corporate social responsibility campaign to bring awareness to cerebral palsy, a disorder that appears in early childhood with varying signs and symptoms.
“While there is no cure, some symptoms can be effectively managed with physical therapy and support, allowing those affected to lead productive lives.”
Sagicor said it will continue to monitor Josiah’s progress and will try to continue to support him.
Still riding on a high from his success, Josiah has become a kind of poster boy for cerebral palsy.
“People are amazed by my story. Even my friends are motivated to see what this boy with a disability can achieve and they too are now striving to do better.”
He said his story has also brought about a greater awareness of cerebral palsy and he is happy about that, “because I don’t think it is a condition on which a lot of light is shed.”