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Talita Counter tells her story

My name is Talitha Counter and I am an 18-year-old learner from Jan Kriel School. Recently, I've been posed the question, “What Jan Kriel School has done for me and what it means to me?” To adequately answer that question, I would have to take you right back to the beginning.

I was born on the 11th of January 2004 and just six weeks after I was born, I became very ill. I had contracted a viral infection called Meningo enchafilitis. This causes the muscles in my brain to not function at their full potential. Because of my muscles being affected, my chest muscles weakened. I then got a tracheostomy tube in my airway to assist me.

Growing up I moved around a lot in terms of school. After 3 different schools, I embarked on my Jan Kriel journey in 2020 when I was in Grade 10. I never really had the opportunity to fully experience Jan Kriel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. All the restrictions and the lockdown, meant that I could only attend school on a rotational basis. It was never certain when we would return to school full time. The staff of Jan Kriel made sure that my school work was done, even though I was not physically at school. Mrs Alma from the clinic helped me write my tests via video call and I would e-mail my projects to her so that she could hand them to the necessary teachers. It was only last year that I got the full experience of being a Jan Kriel learner. “It has been nothing short of amazing” The teachers really go the extra mile in helping the learners. I also have the clinic staff that helps me change my tracheostomy tube every day and help me with my suction. I'm so grateful for them. The SAALO staff also ensures that my needs are accommodated.

Whenever I write a test or exam, I get the opportunity to work with transcribers which I could not be more grateful for. If there is anyone that I can count on, regarding anything, it is Mrs Duckitt, our school psychologist. She does an amazing job and always supports me no matter what. Because of my mobility, I live at the hostel from Monday to Friday. At first, the thought of being away from home scared me, but the tannies at the hostel do an excellent job at making us feel at home. They go above and beyond to ensure that we are well taken care of and treat us as their own. I will obviously also have to thank the kitchen staff as they prepare amazing meals for us daily.

Jan Kriel School provided me with accessible facilities, a fully functioning clinic to tend to my needs, amazing teachers and has gifted me with lifelong friends. So, to answer the question of “what Jan Kriel School means to me”, it has provided me with unconditional support, amazing friends, lifelong skills and the ability to further my education. I can confidently say that Jan Kriel School is one of the best special needs' schools in the country!

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