Jen completed her studies at RNC in 2016.
Jen was part of our national I Can campaign; changing people’s perception of visual impairment and focussing on what our students can do, not what they can’t.
I can try new things
Hi I’m Jen and I’m 21 from the Wirral. At RNC, I study on the ASPIRE programme (Achievement for Social, Personal and Independence, Responsibility for future Employment and/or Education).
I’ve been visually impaired since birth as a result of retinopathy of prematurity and I have no perception of light.
I was born in Pretoria, South Africa, where I attended a school for people with VI (visual impairment) but don’t really feel like I learned things properly. The school system was that you either fitted in with mainstream or you were classed as handicapped.
At 16 I moved to the Wirral with my parents and attended a mainstream secondary school. I was the only VI student the school had ever had so they didn’t know how to adapt things for me and I wasn’t allowed to try most of the activities that the other kids were doing.
I first heard about RNC from someone at the local council, they said that former students from the Wirral had been to RNC. At first I was reluctant to go – the thought of living on my own, away from home and without my parents scared me. I attended a Pre-Entry Assessment at RNC and it convinced me that this was better than any other College, plus my mum was really keen for me to come here.
Life at RNC
Every week the ASPIRE group go to an outdoor activity centre called Dinedor and there I’ve been able to get involved with everything from collecting wood chippings, sawing wood, making tables, painting, planting vegetables and even using power tools!
Every week I have conversational French lessons with a native French speaker and this year I was able to travel to Lyon in France. I went on an aeroplane, rode on their underground Metro system and even tried snails that were still in their shells!
At RNC I am proud to say that I achieved my bronze Duke of Edinburgh (D of E) Award, something which I was always told would not be possible at mainstream. I have a condition known as spastic diplegia which is stiff muscles, causing a weakness in my left side and I get tired quickly. As part of my D of E expedition I walked for two hours each day, which was a really big achievement for me.
There’s always different things going on at RNC and lots of trips out. This year I’ve been to see the SS Great Britain, had boat rides on the river, visited Cadbury’s World and Butterfly Land, where a butterfly actually landed on my student ID card! Other activities I take part in at College are jewellery making, art and ceramics, baking and cooking, barbecues and going to regular dining clubs. I’ve always been a fan of musicals and was so pleased to play Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz for my Bronze Arts Award. I was really nervous to perform in front of the College but really enjoyed it.
I have had a really amazing time a RNC and I am so thankful to all the staff who have encouraged me to try these new things, especially the PSOs (Pastoral Support Officers) who organise activities out of lessons. Everyone has been so supportive and they always make adaptions to make sure that it is possible for me to take part in things if I want to. My mum thinks I’m doing amazingly well at RNC, I have developed my own independence, made lots of friends and become much more confident.
Find out what you can achieve at RNC by giving us a call on 01432 376 621 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org