Heaven Smith’s High School Hell

I started to read this story about Heaven Smith’s high school experience, and it made me angry. When I’ve now read it in full, it makes me simultaneously angry beyond words and wanting to cry. At the age of 16, she should not be experiencing so many barriers.

She is in a wheelchair and goes to a school with no elevator. This means she cant’ get upstairs or to the basement, which is where her art class and cafeterias are. Consequently, she eats alone and only when others can bring her food, and goes to art class only when her dad can lift her down the stairs. She missed out on going on a trip to Montreal because her teacher didn’t take in to account her needs. My gut screams that she should find another school, that this shouldn’t be the way she finishes high school, but I understand her wish to finish at the school where her friends are.

I’m so glad this reporter named some of the people who call themselves responsible for improving access. They have failed her. How can they say they act on needs when they are brought to their attention? She has been there since grade 9, and I don’t see an elevator.

I had some struggles in high school, but not nearly to this degree. If I dealt with this every day, I’m sure it would have broken me. I also had parents who knew how to put on their army boots and fight when they had to. I will never be able to thank my mom enough for all she did to fight for me, even though she worked for the same school board. That takes one hell of a lot of guts.

I’m so angry I can’t find words. The fact that a student was allowed to suffer like this for 2 years is deplorable. Shame on the whole school board. What a way to set someone up for life!

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