Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Canadian elementary school agrees to help boy with CP, who was being bullied

From The Toronto Sun:

Staff at George Webster Elementary School have caved and now promise to provide Matthew Lau’s disabled son the support he needs.

Lau had kept seven-year-old William, who has cerebral palsy and other health conditions, home from school because an older boy was assaulting him and nothing was being done about it.

“What changed things was the article in the Toronto Sun. It is unfortunate that it takes a newspaper article and embarrassment for people to do the right thing,” Lau said.

After the Sun ran a story about the dad’s situation, he had a meeting with the school’s principal, superintendent and social worker.

“We discussed the issues around the assault on William and the support I feel needs to be in place. He will now have support moving from classrooms. On the playground he had no support or supervision. I want him to have an inclusive life, but I want support in the vicinity so he is still able to play,” Lau said.

“He is going to be asked at recess if he needs to go to the washroom and he will be helped.”

In the past William was allowed to soil himself at school and sit in it.

“As long as parents are willing to listen to the school board and believe that there just aren’t the proper supports things will continue. There are guaranteed rights,” Lau said.

Now that the dad’s issues at school have been solved, there is another major problem he is facing.

Lau is a single father of five who lives in a small, but spotless, one-bedroom apartment.

His three girls share a futon and his two boys sleep on air mattresses while Lau takes the sofa.

He has been on the waiting list for Toronto Community Housing for 10 years.

He wasn’t aware that the family’s situation could move it to the top of the list for housing.

Now he is getting William’s medical records and a letter from his doctor to say that the youngster’s needs are not being met in his current accommodation.

His condition requires that he has a proper bed and the current bathroom in the apartment isn’t adequate for him.

A Sun reader wrote in to say there is a two-bedroom apartment in her Beaches building owned by TCH that has been vacant since July.

Dave Mitchell — the chairman of the board of directors at TCH — promised to make some calls after being contacted by the Sun.