By Madison Morse
Living In The Ledge Staff Reporter
Imagine not being able to use your legs or living in a state of anxiety that could lead to a panic attack at any moment. These are just some of the struggles students are having to face every single day.
However, Grand Ledge Public Schools is on a mission to help these students by offering personalized amenities to their school system.
According to Hayes Middle School Principal Mike Johnson, Grand Ledge has and will continue to make any necessary building changes to provide to those who need physical assistance.
“We have added hands-free doors, handicapped spaces and in the last few years it was realized that we needed to construct cut-outs to the ends of sidewalks so any student in a wheelchair would be able to access the sidewalks as well,” Johnson said. “Whenever we remodel we have to take these changes into consideration. We make accommodations where needed, it varies student by student.”
Grand Ledge Public Schools have gone above and beyond to not only accommodate students with physical restrictions but they have added four programs amongst their schools to help assist with multiple types of disabilities on a more personalized level, said Assistant Superintendent Andy George.
“Grand Ledge offers four different disability aiding programs; cognitively impaired (CI), emotionally impaired (EI), learning disabled (LD) and autism impaired (AI). Most schools do not have these programs,” said George. “For our autism program we have 11 teachers and paraprofessionals for our 18 students. We also have members from Regional Educational Support that come into our building regularly to check-in and see how the students are doing in their different programs.”
Resources that are becoming available to those who have any type of disabilities are making a great impact on students. Selena Martinez, a Michigan State student training her dog, Santiago, to help with her disability, says she thinks schools like Grand Ledge have made amazing steps to help.
“I feel a lot better knowing that schools will let me have my dog with me. I am legally allowed to take him wherever,” said Martinez. “He is being trained for PTSD, Depression and generalized anxiety. If I feel like I’m having an anxiety attack he could make a barrier between me and other people to relax me. Eventually he will be able to dial 911 from my phone.”
Grand Ledge is also making it easier for those with physical disabilities to make it to class without any hesitation.
“Although some students in our programs prefer to ride our regular means of transportation all students that use a wheel are taken to school through Dean Transportation to fit those accommodations,” George said.
It is thanks to these personalized programs Grand Ledge has implemented that have made it clear this school system is going the extra mile. Much thought and effort went into developing each of these amenities for the schools and in turn has been extremely positive for students.
“It’s very comforting to know that schools will allow students to be protected at all times,” Martinez said.