A seven-year-old blind girl has been banned from taking her walking cane to her primary school for “health and safety” reasons.
Lily-Grace Hooper was left virtually blind after suffering a stroke just four days after she was born. Lily lost all use of her right eye and can only make out colours and lights with her left.
Almost exactly one year ago, Lily started using the long wrapping paper rolls from Christmas paper to help her get around the house – she found it so effective, she asked her mother, Kristy, to get her a cane for Christmas.
Lily progressed onto using a fibre-glass walking cane donated to her earlier this year by Common Sense Cane, a charity for blind children.
Since April, Lily has been taking the cane to school, and her mother describes it as becoming “an extension of her daughter’s arm”.
Unfortunately, a risk assessment carried out by Gary Learmonth from Sensory Support Service, on behalf of the school, deemed the cane to be a “high risk” to other people around the seven-year-old. The suggested advice was that Lily have around the clock adult support while at school.
Lily’s mother was absolutely livid at the decision, saying that without the cane she fears Lily may become dependent on third-party help to go about her daily life and the cane is an important tool for her daughter’s independence.
Kristy said: “She hasn’t had any problems with any of the other students, and none of the parents have complained about it – in fact, they have all been very supportive.
I don’t understand where the school is coming from. Lily-Grace has taken to the cane very quickly, and she needs it as she travels to school, walks to the playground, or just being in school.”
A spokesperson for Blind Children UK, a leading charity for vision-impaired children said: “Using a cane teaches a child to keep themselves safe and can help them to become less reliant on others” and that it was imperative a child learned independence from a young age.
This certainly isn’t the first time that we have seen schools take drastic action to “protect the health and safety” of children – but has it gone too far?