A mother of a blind seven-year-old girl has said she is ‘absolutely livid’ after her daughter was banned from using her walking cane at school - in case she TRIPS up teachers and pupils.
Lily-Grace Hooper suffered a stroke when she was just four days old, leaving her virtually blind and only able to see light in one eye.
However, she received an essentially lifeline earlier this year when a charity donated her a fibre-glass walking cane - after she started using cardboard tubes to guide herself at home.
But she has been banned from using the device at her primary school - after a risk assessment was carried out - and said it posed a high risk to others around her.
Instead, Lily-Grace has been told she should instead have full adult support at all times - and has to ‘walk carefully’.
The decision by Hambrook Primary School and the Sensory Support Service - which does assessments for schools - has infuriated mum Kristy.
Kristy, 38, said: “When the school told me she can no longer bring her cane into school, I just thought this must be health and safety gone mad.
‘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.
‘I am absolutely livid. What about the health and safety of my girl? I like school, they are a good school, but this really is very poor advice.
‘It’s just ridiculous. If you took a walking cane away from a blind adult, you would say that was discrimination. It’s the same here.”
Kristy is worried that her daughter will become dependent on having someone show her around, while a helper would also set her daughter apart from the rest of her class.
She added: ‘It is a disability, but I want to celebrate it and make sure she can become independent.’
Sarah Murray, founder of Common Sense Canes, who donated a stick to Lily-Grace, described her treatment as ‘absolute nonsense’.
‘I’ve heard about this health and safety reasons, and I just cannot fathom what the school is thinking. Why are they taking a cane away from a little girl?’
School head Jo Dent has since said they would discuss the situation with Kristy.
She said: ‘The school’s mobility officer raised health and safety issues around the new cane following a recent risk assessment.
‘We have to consider all of our pupils, so it is important that we have an opportunity to discuss the situation before we make any decisions.
‘We are very keen to resolve this issue as soon as possible and have been actively seeking to engage with the parent to bring this to an agreeable conclusion.
‘The pupil has not been banned from bringing in their cane, we have simply asked them to not use it around school as a temporary measure until we have the chance to meet with the parent and discuss the situation.
‘It was initially hoped that we would have this resolved within a day or two.’