Hamilton school creates natural fit for students

Supporting students with disabilities to accomplish their goals, Hillcrest High School’s Physical Assistance Centre in Hamilton is “an everyday part of the school culture”.

Teenage banter is part of lunchtimes as students take a break at the Physical Assistance Centre (PAC), which provides support for students with disabilities at Hillcrest High School in Hamilton. They’re cheeky, laugh a lot and have fun, and talk about many things, including their school environment.

The centre caters for 15 students and has its own building, but most of the students study in mainstream classes. Some are in wheelchairs and some have complex medical and support needs, which the centre’s staff provide.

There are over 40 ORS-funded students in the school, with another centre, the Independent Living Centre, also catering for students with learning disabilities.

Year 12 student Elai Kerr-Rushbrooke says, "The PAC caters best for people like me. It’s an ideal combination because we can see other people who are like-minded, plus we spend time with other students in mainstream classes.

"But the teachers are not loose on deadlines for our school work. They expect us to be on track and to reach our goals. That’s a big thing for me."

Ryan Ingles, 14, says, "We joke around on our breaks. There’s about six of us, it’s a mixture, including students who aren’t with PAC but are our friends and like to come and hang out. We all take the mickey, talk about problems with parents – like most teenagers."

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