Good Afternoon Members of DC Council, thank you for allowing us to come and testify here today.
My name is Kaylynn Flemons and I am a 5th grade student in the wonderful school, J.O. Wilson Elementary. I have attended J.O. Wilson for the entirety of my academic career thus far, going as far back to preschool. You should listen to me because I am a active contributor to my school. Since preschool, I have worked hard to be a role model to fellow students. Last year, I was the treasurer of our student government, got 100% on the Anet test, scored advanced on PARCC, and in 3rd grade won 2nd place in the school’s science fair.
Thank you for giving us the things we needed in the past, including the glass front doors that helped with our safety, but now we need your help with a MAJOR issue. I am here today to share my personal story.
Earlier this year, on February 12th, I had major surgery on my knee. After my surgery, I was restricted to a wheelchair. My mom asked my school, “How is she going to continue with her classes” since most of my classes are on the 3rd floor. My only option was to to try to walk up the stairs. Because of this need, I had to meet with a physical therapist to learn how to use crutches correctly on the stairs. Once I got upstairs on the 3rd floor, I was able to use my wheelchair. I missed several weeks of classes, to include lunch and aftercare, that were on other floors because I was unable to go up and down stairs throughout the day.
This leads to my issue: J.O. Wilson is in desperate need of an elevator. To add to my story, at first going up stairs for me was a struggle, four sets of stairs may not sound like a lot, but from my point in view, and anyone else with similar limitations, let’s just say it’s harder than it looks. When I walk up the stairs, it feels like every time I go up a set, another set of stairs adds on like a infinite journey. It’s not only hard to walk up the stairs, it takes time from class so every time I go up stairs for the day I miss a little bit of class every day.
A new elevator would positively affect not just me, but injured kids, disabled kids, even injured or disabled family members like the time a disabled father came to see his child at a performance but could not go. Kids in my school neighborhood who are disabled cannot go to our neighborhood school.
Also, when some of my peers injure their leg, knee, ankle or foot, worried parents either don’t allow them to go to school or spend a lot of time advocating for them. With an elevator, all of these problems can be solved. If you do decide to help us, I would ask that you make it a top priority since we have actually been promised an elevator in past years.
The elevator is important because of safety. Besides education, safety is the number one thing parents want. Without an elevator, an injured or disabled kid will definitely be at risk of getting more injured. For example, one time while I was walking down the steps, a second grader zoomed down the steps almost knocking me over while I was on the crutches.
You may think “why should she care, she’s leaving this school year”, but I care about my school and I have faced that same problem twice during my time at J.O. Wilson– besides, I’ll have lots of friends and three brothers still at the school next year, and I don’t want anyone to have the same challenging and unsafe experience in the future.
Once again, thanks for listening and we hope the elevator that has been promised for the last few years will actually be installed this year. Please make it a top priority, our safety and education depends on it.