Brittany Rogers, 10, with her Year 5 teacher Wendy Johns at Pialba State School.
Brittany Rogers, 10, with her Year 5 teacher Wendy Johns at Pialba State School. Alistair Brightman

School's cool for Brittany

THERE was relief, excitement and more than a touch of apprehension on the face of young Brittany Rogers yesterday as she attended her first class at school in more than a year-and-a-half.

The usually bubbly 10-year-old was nervous about entering her new Year 5 class at Pialba State School but was keen to get her life back to normal.

She had spent the past two years undergoing major hospital surgeries in Brisbane, during one of which she was given 10 minutes to live.

Yesterday, however, that was out of mind.

Brittany added a touch of personality to her school uniform – rainbow sneakers with fluoro pink laces. After her backpack was stashed on a shelf she was eager for the morning bell to ring.

But before she dashed off to join her new friends she revealed she did not fall asleep until 2am yesterday because she was so excited.

Mum Joan Rogers and step-dad Gavin Dunn were by her side as she started her first day and were clearly emotional.

“It is just fantastic, for my sake as well as hers,” Joan said.

“Mr Simon Boss-Walker is one of the best principals I’ve come across. He really didn’t have to take on someone who had caused so much drama. I can’t thank the school enough for giving her an opportunity to be normal.

“The surgeries are still ongoing but she can be a normal kid. This is the best place for her.”

Joan has described Brittany as having a “complex, rare medical condition in her bowel”.

Two years ago it was diagnosed that her large bowel was dying and what followed was an ileostomy – where digestive waste exits the body through an artificial opening called a stoma.

During the course of Brittany’s extensive operations she has been home-schooled.

She has been ready to go back to the school ground for some time but in Brisbane the family found no city schools willing to accept her.

After the family’s move back to the Bay last year, they received the great news that Pialba State School was willing to accommodate Brittany.

But for Mr Boss-Walker the school has not done anything all schools shouldn’t: “We believe it’s just what should happen. Brittany just wants to learn and we want to see that happen.

“We just want Brittany to be a normal little girl.”

“Really Brittany is just one more child with a health concern,” added her teacher Wendy Johns.

Six teachers have been trained to help change Brittany’s stoma bag, which needs to be done 10 times a day, and another three will be trained soon.

Brittany also has her own toilet and will be visited by Hervey Bay Special School nurse Mary Collis.

“This is the first step back into getting Brittany’s life back to normal,” Joan said.



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