Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Northern Ireland school reunion for Canadian Paralympics hero

Kevin Curran tries on one of Jason Dunkerley’s medals yesterday. The Canadian Paralympian bronze and silver medal winner was on a visit to Jordanstown School, where he was a pupil before emigrating to North America with his family at the age of 13

A Canadian Paralympian said it was great to be home as he was hugged by his proud teachers during an emotional return to his old school in Northern Ireland.

Blind runner Jason Dunkerley stopped off to visit Jordanstown School, where he met up with his first PE teacher who helped develop his love of sport.

The school provides specialist education for deaf and visually impaired children, and Jason was happy to show off his silver and bronze medals and chat to pupils.

Jason grew up in Newtownards and attended the school until his family emigrated to Canada when he was 13.

“It is great to be back in a place that holds so many great memories for me and to see some of my old teachers,” he said. “I met some of my best friends at this school and it has helped shaped me into the person I am today. This place is so much more than a school, it’s like a community.

“There is a lot to be said for blind kids being educated around other blind kids. It fills them with a great deal of confidence.” Jason said he hopes his Paralympics success will inspire other children at the school.

“Young people are so impressionable and the people around them can have such a profound influence on them. The teachers at this school were a massive influence on me in terms of giving me the confidence to pursue sport despite having a disability.” Jason said he was thrilled when he realised he had won his medals.

“It was such a unique experience — you train so hard for something and it all comes down to how you compete in just one day. It was quite emotional too, competing for Canada, but being so close to home and seeing my family amid a sea of people.”

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