As a Year 1 student Shaneen Leishman posed a unique challenge to the staff at St Aidan’s. Born with cerebral palsy, and struggling to talk and walk, Shaneen needed extra help and that’s exactly what she got. Today, Shaneen is a research officer at The University of Queensland’s School of Dentistry, having completed a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours and being awarded a PhD in 2013.
Shaneen says St Aidan’s went the extra mile to ensure that she stayed and thrived at a mainstream school, even making sure she was stimulated and learning over school holidays.
“I remember that I was pretty stubborn and found it hard to learn, but the teachers at St Aidan’s didn’t give up on me and they gave my parents scrapbooks to help me learn at home, even continuing throughout school holidays. I wanted to go to a ‘normal’ school and be given the same opportunities as everyone else. My parents tried a number of schools to gain a place for me but St Aidan’s was the only one willing to take me on and I’m still in contact with many of the teachers who helped me through school.”
Shaneen says that in spite of her difficulties, St Aidan’s encouraged her to participate in every activity, “I took everything in my stride and St Aidan’s encouraged me not to be limited by my disability. I loved being part of the rowing team and even today I am still involved in the sport as a cox.”
Shaneen was also the School Vice-Captain in 2001.