Space awaits blind boy
Blind Putaruru student Jayke Hopa is only weeks away from launching off on a scholarship to the United States Space Camp for the visually impaired.
Jayke, 13, was one of only two New Zealanders to recieve the fully-paid for scholarship.
Born with two conditions, septooptic dysplasia and optic nerve hypoplasia meant his optic nerves never fully developed, leaving him completely blind.
Anything as simple as doing up buttons or brushing his teeth has been a struggle.
But practice makes perfect, he said.
Late next month, he will spend a week at the US Rocket and Space Center doing aeronautics, leadership and teamwork activities including working to build a rocket with 200 other visually impaired people from around the world.
Science has never been his favourite subject but he was not selected for his ability with a bunsen burner.
The talented self- taught musician had to submit two essays; one about his eye condition and the other about his heritage.
The American-based trust that processed his application, Light House, was obviously impressed by the creative character.
Jayke, who spends hours strumming away, creating original music, said he is hoping the camp will help him reach his own dream career.
He first picked up the guitar at 5 years old and said the urge to make music came naturally.
‘‘I want to become a famous musician; I’ll write more music and enter more competitions,’’ he said.
The ACDC and Michael Jack- son fan has impressed audiences with his talent.
Resource teacher Nic Holloway put the young Ngati Wairere and Maniapoto descendent’s application together.
Holloway said despite its title, the programme was never all about science.
‘‘It’s about gaining confidence and skills,’’ she said.
For the small town boy who has never left New Zealand, Holloway said it will be an experience to remember.
‘‘I’m so proud of him, it must be fairly daunting going on a long flight and a big American airport; his life has just been living in Putaruru and Waihi,’’ she said.
His go-getter nature will serve him well on the camp, she said.
‘‘One time we set up a rowing machine and he had never been on one. He felt it and he wasn’t sure what would happen when he got on but he did it anyway.’’
Accompanying Jayke on this wild ride will be life skills specialist Paulette Adsett.
Though they both have no idea what is in store, Adsett predicts he will happily take everything in his stride.
‘‘It was just so exciting, he’s just such a wonderful boy,’’ she said.
USA bound: Blind Putaruru schoolboy Jayke Hopa,13, is preparing for takeoff after winning a scholarship to the United States Space Camp.