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Blind Derbyshire schoolboy overcomes rare disease to inspire other children


A Derbyshire schoolboy who is registered as blind has overcome a rare sight condition to inspire other pupils to learn, despite English not being his first language. Dawid Roguszewski, from Ilkeston, was diagnosed with congenital toxoplasmosis at birth which left him completely blind in his right eye and with significantly reduced vision in his left eye meaning he could not see beyond two meters.

But the Year 9 student, from Poland, says he doesn’t let the condition affect him and is regularly seen helping other students with special educational needs at Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy where he studies. Outside school hours, he is an avid footballer and regularly attends after-school practices.

Although English is his second language, Dawid has been described as an “inspirational learner” by his headmaster and was recently awarded the Ormiston Academy Trust Inspirational Learner Award, beating competition from the trust’s 33,000 other students in more than 40 schools.

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Dawid said: “To prepare for a new school, I had many visits to practice walking confidently around the school, finding buildings and classrooms, and making sure that I knew where the restrooms, medical room and hub were in case I needed them..

“I have learned the layout of the school very well, I can now go to any room I am sent to. During lessons, I use a ‘Connect 12’ tablet which connects to the teacher screen, that means I can zoom in on the screen and see everything they’re doing.

“My teachers magnify all the work that’s not on screen so I can see it. I have a teaching assistant in my classes to make sure I’m able to see the work and record everything well. “

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by one of the most common parasites in the world. Humans can often become infected by eating raw meat and this can cause feverish symptoms, but for many the illness is harmless.

However, congenital toxoplasmosis occurs when the disease affects an unborn baby, passing from mother to child. It can then cause sight problems in newborns, but it is thought to affect only one in about 10,000 babies in the UK, according to the NHS.

Newborns can often appear healthy when born before their eyesight deteriorates. It can also cause other problems in babies, such as hearing problems, seizures, or developmental delays.

But for Dawid, the condition is one he has learned to live with and he doesn’t let it affect his learning or his enjoyment of school. During the lockdown, he performed all of his learning tasks remotely and participated in contests and activities with his classmates.

Although he doesn’t yet know what he wants to do in the future, Dawid dreams of being a professional footballer and supports Spanish team Real Madrid and Polish team Legia Warszawa. He said he was “very proud” to win the prize, which was presented at a dinner at the Royal Institute for British Architects in London, in front of his family and other winners.

He said: “I feel very happy when I help other children at school. I don’t like to see others struggling when I could help them. Especially when someone is feeling sad, I want to make sure adults know and can help them.

“I love all my lessons, I especially love physical education. I do bench ball, badminton, rugby, football and athletics. I really like football, I was in goal but now I’m a striker and I like to score goals for my I like spending time with my friends during break and lunchtime.

“I was very proud to win the Inspirational Learner Award, I was happy and excited when I was told about this award. I couldn’t wait to tell my mum and we phoned her right away It was very special that my family and I were sent to London for a special ceremony to receive my award.”

Nia Salt, Principal of Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy, said: “Dawid is truly the epitome of an inspiring learner, he is always determined to do his best and bring joy to others. All his teachers and peers appreciate having him in their class because his happiness and enthusiasm are contagious. We couldn’t be prouder of Dawid for this wonderful achievement.