Wed | Jun 19, 2019

Motor vehicle crashes threaten to crush young dreams

Published:Saturday | April 6, 2019 | 12:17 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Keino Hewitt working out in the gym at the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre on Tuesday.
Fourteen-year-old Nasstasia Edwards practises some exercises while she receives therapy at the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre.
Fourteen-year-old patient at the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre, Nasstasia Edwards, puts on a bright smile for the camera.
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Patients at the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre in St Andrew have been driving home the message of how dangerous driving on the nation’s roadways can crush big dreams.

The Gleaner toured the facility with Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton earlier this week and spoke to patients who say they are now leaving it to the Almighty to determine if they will walk again with help from specialists at the institution.

One patient is Keino Hewitt, a young man who had his eyes set on donning the Jamaican colours on the international athletics circuit at the Olympic Games or World Championships. Although his still harbours big dreams, his focus has shifted as he is now aiming to make it to the Parapan American Games in August and the 2020 Paralympics.

“I met in a car accident coming from the airport. I don’t remember the sequence of events of what exactly happened because the accident knocked me unconscious. All I remember is waking up with cardboard-like material on my hand and neck, plus my head was swollen, and I was wrapped in a lot of cloth.”

And although he is wheelchair-bound, only being able to stand with artificial assistance, memories of his days training alongside top stars at the MVP Track Club lit up his face as he shared his story.

IT’S IN GOD’S HANDS

“At MVP, I was doing the 100m and 200m. Life before now was great for me. Who don’t know me now would love to know me at that time because I was a great person and very fun to be around,” he said.

“Whether I can walk again, I leave that in the hands of God. The damage is to my spinal cord. Currently, I am walking with a walker, but I believe I will be able to walk again and, most definitely, I hope to be able run again, play football, and dance; enjoy life on my feet once more,” an upbeat Hewitt told The Gleaner.

He highlighted further that he wants “to be the new face of the Paralympics in the 100m wheelchair racing. Before qualifying, though, I need donations to buy the racing wheelchair. I have to do a lot of gym work, and that is going good.”

Fourteen-year-old Nasstasia Edwards, bedridden for the most part, embodies happiness despite her situation.

On her way from church one Sunday en route to Port Royal to enjoy a meal of fish, the Immaculate Conception High School student, along with her mother, was badly injured as a speeding bus slammed into the taxi in which they were travelling.

“My mother and I had surgery at the same time. I sustained spinal cord injury. I can’t walk, and that makes me feel different from other people. When I see other children playing, I feel bad, and sometimes I feel paranoid that something may just go wrong. I don’t even know if I will walk again. I just have to wait ‘til I am healed. I want to be back at school learning because I really would like to be a lawyer,” she said, smiling broadly.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com