École Holy Mary student earns spot in Los Angeles braille competition

Jul 2, 2024 | Good News, Greater Saskatoon Catholic School Division

Showing amazing dedication and support, Liv Ward, one of the educational assistants who works with Isaiah, taught herself braille so should could help Isaiah have more independence. She worked with Cones Ice Cream—a local Martensville shop and favourite summer stop of Isaiah—to make a braille menu so Isaiah could read the menu on his own. Special thanks to everyone at Cones for the support!

The story below is written by Shanine Sealey and was originally published in the Martensville Messenger. It is posted here with permission.

Isaiah Gauthier, a 10-year-old from Martensville, is just like any other boy his age; active, funny, sport-loving; (especially when it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Saskatoon Blades) and he loves learning. One of the things that makes Isaiah unique is the fact that he was born with a visual impairment and due to this, he relies on braille in order to read and write.

“His visual field is extremely limited. He can see light and large contrast shadowing, but he relies a lot on his other senses and uses a mobility cane,” Isaiah’s mom Renelle Gauthier explained.

Isaiah, who attends École Holy Mary Catholic School in Martensville, began learning braille in kindergarten and has always had a passion for learning. Currently in Grade 4, Isaiah is reading at a Grade 7 print level.

Earlier this year, Isaiah had competed in a Regional Braille Challenge for his second time, which included testing in various categories such as; reading, writing, comprehension, spelling and proof-reading. Once the results were tallied, the Gauthier family received a phone call Braille Institute of Los Angeles that took a little while to fully sink in. Isaiah had qualified to compete in an international braille competition taking place in L.A. on June 20th.

Isaiah’s results from the competition earned him a spot within the top 10 in his age category, and top 50 overall out of approximately 1,100 other competitors throughout Canada, the United States, the U.K. and Australia. Additionally, this accomplishment makes Isaiah the first student from Saskatchewan to ever qualify.

The family has plans to do fundraising prior to the trip to help cover expenses and use this opportunity as a stepping stone to help bring awareness for things like ensuring braille is available in all spaces; including on all public washroom doors, so visually impaired individuals know which one to use; auditory street crossings, and more accessibility for blind sports within the province.

“This experience is such a privilege, but also a responsibility and Isaiah wants to advocate for blind people to be able to live a fully-independent life and help push for that. He even contacted the board of a regional park asking if they could put braille on the sign of the golf shop so he could know if it was open or not.”

“He feels like his life’s work is to help others and believe in them and help them feel more confident. This is something he is very passionate about,” Renelle said. “ As far as things have come over the years, there is still so much work to be done, especially in terms of things like sports engagement, which helps to create a more balanced life-style for any child. But we know it is just one step at a time.”

Watch for more information in future issues of the Martensville Messenger to learn more about how you can help support Isaiah’s journey to L.A. for the competition and help him pursue his passion to advocate for others.

“We are so grateful for the community we live in. I had always heard the saying ‘It takes a village’, but now I truly understand what that means because this city has been incredible. The support we have had from our neighbors, businesses, the school, our church community; it is so amazing and we are so thankful to call Martensville home,” Renelle stated.

Published here first: https://www.gscs.ca/_ci/p/19450

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