Melanie Bowen, right, looks on as her daughter, Brooklyn Mavis, sheds tears during an interview with Global News in British Columbia. Brooklyn was told she was not allowed to attend a students exchange in Prince Edward Island because of her autism and epilepsy.
©Photo special to The Guardian by Global News
A B.C. teen with autism and epilepsy who missed out on an exchange trip to P.E.I. will get to travel to the province after all thanks to some help from Islanders.
Jeff Himelman, president of the Autism Society of P.E.I., said as a lot of Islanders became aware of Brooklyn Mavis’s situation, it left a bad taste in their mouths.
“As Islanders we certainly pride ourselves on being welcoming and inclusive to all people and visitors alike,” he said.
Mavis, 15, was supposed to take part in a Society for Educational Visits and Exchanges in Canada (SEVEC) trip to P.E.I. this spring but wasn’t allowed to after having a complex seizure during an outing with Island students in B.C.
SEVEC said steps were taken to accommodate Mavis.
The incident led to allegations of discrimination, harassment and bullying against Mavis.
Since she didn’t come to P.E.I. through SEVEC, local community groups and the City of Charlottetown have organized a fundraising effort to bring her to the province.
Himelman said the organizers have been in contact with Mavis’s family about her coming to P.E.I.
“We’re very hopeful that we’ll see a very positive outcome to this in the near future,” he said.
On Thursday, fundraising partners Parkdale Sherwood Lions Club, the autism society, the City of Charlottetown and the Stars for Life Foundation held a barbecue at the Charlottetown Fire Department’s station on Kent Street.
Although Mavis won’t be part of the educational experience of the exchange, Himelman said she will still get a unique Island experience so the family leaves with a positive impression of P.E.I.
“We just didn’t want it to end on the note that it did,” he said.
Paul Gauthier of the Lions Club said Mavis wanted to come to P.E.I. and the organizers wanted to help her fulfil that dream.
“We have done that.”
The fundraisers’ goal is to have Mavis in P.E.I. next month.