August: Celebrating Young Achievers
Young people harnessed their talent, hard work and passion to go above and beyond what was expected of them – regardless of their age or disabilities.
Aisling Homan, a Somersfield Academy pupil, aged 16, wrote and published a book of short stories about children at different stages of their battle against cancer.
She sold all 100 copies of the book, Fighting the Battle, and donated all proceeds to the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre.
Aisling said: “I didn’t write it so that I could make money; I wrote it so that people could understand what they go through.”
Aisling, from Hamilton Parish, wrote the book in memory of her late cousin, Liam, who died of a rare form of cancer, aged just 3.
She wrote the stories in the latter half of 2019 as part of a yearlong project for her school year’s International Baccalaureate programme.
Aisling said that she submitted the book for publication in January and sold the copies during a school fair the next month.
Chaiya Smith-Dyer, 17, celebrated a seven-year streak in February of being on the honour roll – all while she battled dyslexia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and non-verbal learning disorder, which makes unspoken cues difficult to understand.
Her struggles were brought on by Turner syndrome, which happens when an X chromosome in girls is partially or completely missing and creates developmental challenges.
Her mother, Safiya Dyer, said that her daughter’s condition led to further challenges such as type 1 diabetes from pancreatic failure.
She added that her struggles included bouts of depression and anxiety.
But despite her challenges, Chaiya said that she maintained a grade-point average above 90 per cent throughout the school year while she was at CedarBridge Academy – and she had “no intentions” of slowing down.
In a similar vein, Kai Smart, 18, proved wrong the teachers that once called her “unteachable” when she graduated high school with straight As and was accepted into four universities.
Kai, from Pembroke, was born with auditory processing disorder and has difficulty with the spoken word because of a poor connection between her brain and ears.
She said that the disorder made it difficult for her to learn in a traditional classroom environment and she had gone through six different schools before her disability was diagnosed.
Her mother, Lisa, founded the Bermuda Centre for Creative Learning with others to help Kai and those like her to find a way to learn that suited them.
Kai eventually used a earpiece device that clarified her teachers’ speech.
She said that she did everything she could to be successful after her diagnosis, even graduating BCCL and attending in Canada the Landmark East boarding school and, later, King’s-Edgehill School.
Kai added that she started online classes at Britain’s Portsmouth University and that she hoped to pursue her passion in creative writing and to campaign for others who have learning disabilities.