Thu | Nov 26, 2020

Sweet times for Sarai - After defying the odds and acing GSAT, wheelchair user gets tuition scholarship

Published:Thursday | August 3, 2017 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Sarai Watson (left) and her mother Marilyn McDonald-Watson.
Sarai Watson gets a hand from her mother, Marilyn McDonald-Watson.

While it is still uncertain how 11-year-old wheelchair user Sarai Watson will navigate her new school come September, the young scholar's tuition is one thing her family will not have to worry about.

Sarai has been placed at the Immaculate Conception High School after securing a 95 per cent average in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), despite having to do several surgeries on her feet and suffering an anxiety attack on the first day of the examination.

Her story, which was carried in The Sunday Gleaner last month, inspired many persons, including founder of Flourish Mentorship Programme, Fiona Burke, who offered her a scholarship to fund some of her school expenses for the academic year.

"I realised that it must be very expensive for her family to foot both the medical bills plus prepare her to go on to high school," said Burke.

"She did so well despite the challenges," added Burke.




Sarai has done seven surgeries so far, mostly to correct the deformity of her legs. She was first diagnosed with Blount's disease and later on femoral anteversion and discoid meniscus. Her condition forced her to use a wheelchair or crutches, and has caused her to endure severe pain. Despite her challenges, she was very active in school and did well academically.

After reading her story, Burke invited Sarai to give a motivational presentation to a group of girls who are a part of her mentorship programme. She said her presentation was well received by the participants who are between the ages of 15 and 18 years old.

"It was impactful. They did say that they really were inspired and they really admired her," Burke said.

Sarai is one of three students granted a scholarships by Burke, who started her mentorship programme to provide guidance to youths.

"I believe that the teenage girls aren't being guided in the way that perhaps my generation and the generation before were guided," she said.

Sarai's mother, Marilyn McDonald-Watson, said she is grateful for the financial assistance.

"It is a generous offer, I wasn't expecting it," said McDonald-Watson.

It is likely that Sarai will have to enter high school on crutches, although plans are being made to have her do physiotherapy.