Willway Elementary principal Kendra Laidlaw (left) is glad to see Grade 3 student Nate Twaddle, who uses a walker for a rare neurological condition, using the new accessible walkway. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Willway Elementary principal Kendra Laidlaw (left) is glad to see Grade 3 student Nate Twaddle, who uses a walker for a rare neurological condition, using the new accessible walkway. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Langford mother thankful for accessible walkway that helps son connect with peers

Rare neurological condition means Grade 3 student uses wheelchair, walker to play

Nate Twaddle is just like any Grade 3 student in his class, except he uses a wheelchair or walker to get around his school in Langford.

The eight-year-old was born with Spinocerebeller Ataxia Type 13 (SCA13), a rare neurological condition, and is one of two current students who had trouble accessing parts of Willway Elementary – before a new walkway was installed in early October.

Stretching more than 50 metres, the paved path connects two separate parts of the school playground.

“You take for granted simple things like being able to run a lap around the school,” said Nate’s mom, Tara Twaddle. “Last year, he would have to turn around and go the opposite way when he hit the field.”

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His classmates would run ahead while Nate would avoid going through the muddy stretch of school grounds.

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, a small group of students and staff held a ribbon ceremony at the school to celebrate all students can have universal accessibility on school grounds.

Principal Kendra Laidlaw says the idea first popped up three years ago when Nate was in Kindergarten.

“We’ve thought of it as no mans land between the hockey field and the basketball court,” said Laidlaw. “It ended up becoming a dirt path that you had to walk through that was very muddy when it rained.”

West Coast Insurance provided a $5,000 community grant, and the Sooke School District used part of their annual facilities grant to make the walkway a reality.

“It’s been really helpful for him to be included with his peers,” said Twaddle. “A lot of people don’t notice that something is lacking until you need it for yourself.”

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aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

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