NEW revelations that the office for Northern Ireland Children’s Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) has agreed to get involved in the case of ten-year-old Ballycolman child Kayden McNamee, has been welcomed by his mother Joanne.
Joanne has been in contact with NICCY, who have said they will assign a case worker to assist with Kayden’s plight
Embroiled in a long-running battle with the Department for Infrastructure (DfI), Joanne has been fighting for a ramp to be installed near their home so that Kayden, who is a non-verbal autistic and wheelchair-bound, is able to safely reach the school bus. At present, Kayden has to circumnavigate a longer route as he is unable to mount the five steps outside of his home. DfI have previously refused to install a ramp, suggesting the family would have to pay.
It is understood that a letter of complaint to DfI is in the process of being written, a move which would allow NICCY to formally get involved.
At present, the commission is without a sitting commissioner following the end of Koulla Yiassouma’s tenure on March 1. However, a case worker has been assigned to Kayden. Also on board are Disability Action and local Cllr Raymond Barr.
Speaking of her and Kayden’s daily struggles, Joanne explained, “It’s a daily fight, and it’s only going to get more difficult as Kayden gets bigger and older. It was bad enough when Kayden was able to walk. The steps have no railing, so Kayden was having to crawl up the steps on his hand and knees to get to the bus, or if he tried to walk up them, I was having to stand behind him and hold him to ensure he didn’t fall. But because Kayden is getting bigger and heavier I’m just not able to be doing that anymore. If Kayden hurts himself again, I’m afraid I won’t be in a position to help him.
“We have been fighting with the DfI for over a year now, and it’s a fight I won’t be leaving any time soon. At first, all I wanted was a railing so that Kayden would walk up the steps with assistance, but now I’m pushing for a full ramp. It’s disheartening, but he’s my son, I have to fight and speak up because he can’t.”
Joanne says that the issue worsened ever since Kayden broke his leg, which has resulted in him now being fully wheelchair-bound.
“Due to Kayden now being in a wheelchair, the steps are no longer an option when I want to get him to the school bus. I have to wheel him past the morning traffic and schoolchildren on their way to the Gaelscoil. Because of his sensory and anxiety issues, the noise of the cars and children severely increases Kayden’s anxiety, which can make him that journey very difficult.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure said it was willing to carry out the work, subject to a number of conditions, surrounding design and budgetary issues.
Cllr Raymond Barr said he had attended a site meeting with Kayden’s family, his social worker and representatives from the Department, to no avail.