School Completely Forgets Little Girl in Wheelchair During 5th Grade Graduation (VIDEO)

girl in wheelchair graduationLike many students across the country, Trinecia Blacklock was excited to celebrate her graduation last week. Unlike most of those students, the fifth grader was forgotten by her school’s administrators, and left still waiting to hear her name called by the time the ceremony was wrapped up. And also unlike most of those other children, the spot she was sitting and waiting happened to be in her wheelchair.

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The graduation ceremony at Link Elementary School in Houston, Texas was apparently on its way to wrapping up when Blacklock’s mother, Tonisha McCowan, called the principal’s attention to her daughter … who was still sitting, in tears, in her wheelchair in front of the stage.

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Even when her name was hastily added to the list, she still couldn’t participate fully in the ceremony: the stage that all of her classmates had gotten to march across so that they could receive their certificates and wave to their families had never been equipped with a ramp. And since no one has yet invented a wheelchair that can climb stairs, Blacklock was left out of yet another part of her own graduation. Blacklock did finally received her graduation certificate and went home to celebrate her achievement with some well-deserved cake, but no amount of frosting can take away the sting of being excluded in this way.

The omission of a ramp for a graduation ceremony also leads me to wonder if kids in wheelchairs at the school were ever able to be on-stage during their entire elementary school career. And it makes me wonder how many other schools, in the year 2015, are still lacking similar accommodations? How many little girls have been sidelined from graduation ceremonies, how many kids have been skipped over for school plays, simply because their schools weren’t equipped to handle their needs? It’s been federal law since 1973 that public schools and other federal institutions have to make reasonable accommodations for students with special needs, and renting a ramp for three hours seems pretty damn reasonable to me.

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I can’t imagine the little let-downs that make up the background radiation of the lives of students like Blacklock: always being left out of playground games, always being seated in the aisle instead of in the middle of a flock of friends at the lunch table, always feeling just a little bit on the outside. Administrators and teachers should be hyper aware of this -- and going the extra mile for these kids.

There’s absolutely no reason that her memory of such a big day should be shadowed by that feeling of exclusion, too. In this day and age, there’s no excuse for the school administrators to have overlooked her this way. And if anything good can possibly come from this, I hope that it’s a red flag telling other schools to do a better job looking out for their students – simply remembering that they exist at all would be a pretty good start.

What do your child's school do to accommodate kids like Blacklock?

 

About the Author: Aimee Ogden is a science nerd, fake geek girl, and the mother of 1-year-old twins. She has 99 problems, and most of them involve comic books. You can also find her on Twitter.

Image via CBS

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