London

This six-year-old's broken ankle sees her entire class step in to help

An innocent-enough accident had the principal of Mountsfield Public School scrambling to find a solution to accommodate a pint-sized student. The school decided to pack up everything, and move more than 20 six-year-olds, down the stairs and into a new learning space.

Jenna McCall's grade 1 class is packing up to move into a more accessible space

Jenna McCall, 6, recently broke her ankle but because she's under 9, her doctor says she's ineligible for crutches. (Submitted by Jeremy McCall)

Kids will be kids.

Jenna McCall, 6, of London, Ont., was tightrope-walking on the top edge of her living room couch when she lost her balance, hit the floor and broke her ankle last Friday. 

"She has a giant plaster cast for who knows how long because we're still waiting to see a specialist," said Jenna's dad, Jeremy McCall. While they wait, Jenna is in a wheelchair because she's too young for crutches. 

The problem? Jenna is in one of four inaccessible classrooms at school. Mountsfield Public School is an older building in the south-end of London, and while it has been updated, some rooms are still at the top of stairs. Like Jenna's.

"In talking to the principal and to the teacher, the most sensible solution that they've come up with is to relocate the entire classroom for the time being until she's out of the wheelchair."

So this week, Jenna's teacher is packing up the room and more than 20 six-year-olds, moving them down the stairs into a new learning space. 

"I give the school all the credit in the world for coming up with an innovative way to make it work," McCall said. The school is very old and last summer made some major upgrades, installing an elevator and making the bathrooms accessible, he said.

"So we're both grateful for figuring out a way to make it work," he said. But it's a reminder that the school is far from being accessible to everyone 

"Kids have missed a lot of school over the last two years, and the thought of missing more school was pretty heartbreaking for her because seeing her friends and learning in person were both so important to her."

Jenna McCall, 6, and her dad, Jeremy (Submitted by Jeremy McCall)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Zandbergen

Host, London Morning

Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 20 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna. Contact Rebecca at rebecca.zandbergen@cbc.ca

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