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Small school, but how big is its heart?

When the pencil slips out of your grasp and rolls like a meatball across the floor, what do you do? Reach over and grab it? What if you can’t? What if you’re incapable of maneuvering an every day task as mundane as picking something up. For some students at Castleton State College, obstacles such as this are faced daily. Some may say that the college is known for being small yet having a big heart, and according to those in need of some extra TLC, the school is living up to expectations to some degree.

A compression fracture in your T12 vertebra is going to impact your lifestyle as a student, just ask Eric Hall. His major hurtles are moving things, asking for help and taking it easy. His mindset is that he can, while his back brace opposes. Hall is the first to announce that it is the people at the school that have made life easier for him. “I’d say your friends are your biggest ally just because they’re the ones that are able to look out for you and help you when you need to carry something or when you need to grab something that’s up high”, says Hall.

Melissa Shaw faces an obstacle of a different kind. Because of childhood brain tumors, her perception is off. She is approximately half blind, has no periffeal or central vision. How does this impact her? Melissa is unable to have a sense of depth this is particularly a problem in the dark and with stairs. Shaw believes the school help in making accommodations, “with my vision, it takes me a long time to read, The Academic Support Center is really helpful. They’ll get me books on tape, or scan them into the computer”. Shaw also finds the handicap push buttons at certain buildings to be useful, but slow. She also utilizes public safety as an escort at night, they walk or drive her to her desired destination.

Transportation across campus is not only an issue for Melissa Shaw, but for Ashley Hess, a Castleton junior living with cerebral palsy. Ashley sees a few problems that could be tweaked to make life a bit more of a smoother ride. The older sidewalks are distorted, gapped and cracks vein across the cement. The uneven pavement makes for walking difficult because her brain has trouble coordinating with the muscles. Another issue Hess has, is with the handicap parking available on campus, and public safety’s failure to ensure only handicap plates are parked there. “The spaces only have markings on the pavement and public safety can’t enforce it if it doesn’t have the pole” says Hess. Although a program that helped Ashley get situated at Castleton was the Learning Plan, which is implemented through The Academic Support Center.

So when you see a pencil roll across the floor, reach out and grab it for someone. Don’t be so quick to let the door slam shut behind you, hold it for the next person. If there’s a space available with marked pavement without a pole, leave it open. Just by doing these simple things for someone may save him or her seconds or even minutes of frustration later down the road.