Mon | Oct 15, 2018

Kevaughn finds success while fighting cerebral palsy

Published:Monday | August 22, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Kevaughn with his parents Alston and Andrea Higgins.
Kevaughn Higgins, student at Hydel Academy, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

His long-standing fight with cerebral palsy was compounded with major back surgery he had to do during fourth form. However, Kevaughn Higgins insisted that he would not repeat, but, instead, would sit all six Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects.

That he did and successfully passed five subjects - English language, English literature, history, social studies, and religious education. He, however, will have to resit mathematics.

Andrea Higgins, Kevaughn's mother, said her son's success is even more rewarding because of the many hurdles that interrupted his preparations for the examinations.

"He was having severe pains in his back, and so in the middle of fourth form, he had to do surgery to release the muscles and the nerve endings that were tight. So he missed a lot of classes," she told The Gleaner.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that affects movement and coordination.

"Therefore, there was the thought of whether or not to do the exam. However, he felt that it would be OK to try and do the work. So we paid for the courses and tried to get him to do as much as is possible," she said.

"For mathematics, we knew it would have been a challenge to catch up, therefore, there were no surprises there that he didn't pass."

His mother indicated that the journey was met with anger, depression, and grief, but explained that she is now having her days of joy.

"It's really a challenge when you have a child with disabilities, because there is little or no support from the State. If you don't drive, it's a problem. Initially, when we had to pay taxi fare, it was very expensive. You have to pay for the school, caregivers, among other expenses. You also have to work because you can't stay home," she said.

"For fifth form, we changed three to four caregivers, so that caused some amount of instability."

Kevaughn explained, too, that he had to prepare himself mentally to deal with the many obstacles, but noted that it paid off.

"I was on top of the world (seeing the results). English language is my best subject, and though it was stressful, I persevered," he said.




The 18-year-old, who is a student at the Hydel Group of Schools in St Catherine, also said he makes it a point of his duty to be an example to his peers, indicating that he wants to become a lawyer.

"I don't curse, I don't tell lie, I don't steal, neither am I disrespectful. I know that God puts me in this position for a reason," he declared.

"There are many issues with the justice system that I believe need to be addressed and I want to be a part of the solution."

His father, Alston Higgins, told The Gleaner that even though he was pleased with Kevaughn's academic performance, he is most impressed with his son's determination to possess the soft skills.

"He doesn't tell lie. It doesn't matter if he knows that he will be punished. You cannot get him to tell a lie. He's very disciplined and honest," he said.

Kevaughn's mother shared similar sentiments, highlighting that he is a versatile child.

"After the surgery, his memory was somewhat affected, but you can ask him anything in sports. He knows even things that happened before he was born. Current affairs, politics, you name it, he is able to hold a discussion. He's very sharp," she said.

The mother encouraged other parents with disabled children, saying, "There will be days of tears, there will be days of depression, days when you become anxious, but the key is to ensure that you have the right support system and, in everything, God is first."