Special kid beats odds to shine in ICSE exam

Special kid beats odds to shine in ICSE exam

Vaishnavi Gopal overcomes difficulties to score well in ICSE


Muaz Shabandri

Published: Fri 23 May 2014, 11:47 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:49 PM

Vaishnavi Gopal at the GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai. — KT photos by Mukesh Kamal

Vaishnavi Gopal is no ordinary child. A student of the GEMS Modern Academy in Dubai, she passed her Grade 10 exams in spite of suffering from cerebral palsy — a medical disorder which severely limits physical movement.

Unable to speak clearly or move without a walker, Vaishnavi stunned her classmates by scoring 68.7 per cent in the recently concluded Indian School Certificate Examinations (ICSE).

“Her inability to move around easily like other kids limited her. She needs a walker to move between places and unlike other kids, she can’t go for swimming or physical education classes. It would be heartbreaking for her to see her classmates live normally but she never gave up,” said Vaishnavi’s mother Sajitha Gopal in an interview with Khaleej Times.

Vaishnavi’s inspirational journey started at the Rashid Center for Disabled where she received her early education. By age 11, she was taken within the folds of GEMS Modern Academy where she has since received care and attention.

“She is a very positive and hard-working child and as a mother I believe she has done her best. She is definitely an inspirational child because she always has a smile on her face. No matter what difficulty she has to go through, she always puts up a smile.”

While several schools in Dubai do not provide classes for students with special education needs, Vaishnavi’s success has been made possible by her supportive classmates and teachers. “Initially there were a lot of hitches to get into a mainstream school because many schools are not willing to accept a child with special needs. Schools refuse to take such kids and GEMS Modern Academy was kind enough to take her. She was the first child with physical difficulty to join this school,” said the mother.

Pranathi Rao (right), who was joint second-rank holder (97.4 per cent) at her school said: “I was really happy when I saw my marks – it changed my perspective on academics.I believe it is important to stay focused, determined and take everything in your stride. The greatest challenge is to keep the momentum going. Everyone starts with rigour and but one has to remain motivated throughout the year. Just do what you keep doing and look to your teachers for help and speak to your seniors for inspiration.”

Having difficulty to speak and explain thoughts cohesively, the news of Vaishnavi’s success sent a wave of cheer and jubilation across the school campus.

“Her friends have been very supportive and her classmates took extra care to help her. All her teachers used to tell me how Vaishnavi would be the most consistent child in class. She never turned up to school without her homework completed.”

With great difficulty, Vaishnavi shared her dream with Khaleej Times saying, “I have many dreams in life but someday I would like to be a teacher. When I was a child, it was my teachers who inspired me to fight challenges faced in life.”

For her mother, the journey is not yet complete — it is one of many accomplishments which the family would like her to achieve.

“I would like her to be independent in life, without relying much on people around her. That’s my only goal. I strongly believe children who have disabilities should not be confined to their homes. They should be given a chance to live their life and bring a positive change,” noted Sajitha.

For once, Vaishnavi has proved the only disability in life is a bad attitude and nothing stops positive people.


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