Teacher chronicles kindergarten year of student with cerebral palsy

*This article is not about GAME, but it is a wonderful story of a little boy with cerebral palsy that we wanted to share*

From: thestar.com

By: Kristin Rushowy Education Reporter, Published on Tue Feb 04 2014

When Hercules Stergiou started senior kindergarten at Bowmore public school, principal Thelma Sambrook saw his parents hug him goodbye on the first day. She could sense their apprehension.

It was his first year in school and for Hercules, who has cerebral palsy, the transition was all that more difficult. But as the days and weeks went by, Sambrook realized the family was becoming more and more at ease.

“I had watched the emails all summer between my vice-principal and his family about his transitioning to the school,” said Sambrook. “It was easy to sense the anxiety and nerves of the family.”

But after that first day “I watched many more hugs and I saw a family appear more comfortable with the school learning environment and develop trust in us. And I saw a little boy continue to smile every day, who continued to embrace the experience, who loves learning and who loves being with his peers.”

And with his parents’ permission and the help of teacher and part-time photographer Patrick Murtaugh, she chronicled his kindergarten year in a book published by the board, with all proceeds going to the Hospital for Sick Children.

The story, written in his voice, shows Hercules at school, at home, with friends, at weekly physiotherapy and doctor’s appointments to get fitted for leg braces. (The 6-year-old also goes to Sick Kids every six months for Botox injections to help his leg muscles.)

In some photos, he is using his walker — which is covered in orange tiger-stripe tape — or walking alone, or hand-in-hand with other students.

Hercules uses the walker, but lately has been taking a number of steps on his own. Up until recently, Sambrook had only seen him take 10 steps alone, and cried recalling how she saw him make his way down a long hallway without his walker, which she estimated at about 150 steps.

At Tuesday’s book launch, Dad Dimitrios Stergiou said it was a struggle to find a school for his son, given the one across the street from their East York home is not accessible.

But Bowmore, about 10 minutes from their place, has proved to be a place his son can’t wait to get to each day.

“The first month we were wondering if he’d have a hard transition but he’d come back home smiling and wouldn’t complain,” said Stergiou. “The biggest worry was bullying and there was none of that. He was comfortable.

“I thought coming to school would make things more difficult for him — he’d see kids able to walk. But for him? He sees it as ‘I’m going to walk like them too.’ ”

All About Me – Hercules: My Year in Kindergarten is available at tdsb.on.ca for $10.