Uncertain future: funding runs out for beloved pupil

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A Queenstowner with special needs faces an uncertain future when his education funding comes to an end in December.

Michitu Kosakai, 21, suffers from a rare chromosome disorder.

From next year he’ll no longer be eligible to attend Wakatipu High School, where he’s been a pupil for the past nine years.

Parents Shigeko Kosakai and Michael Burns aren’t pointing the finger, but they are questioning the level of support for families in a similar situation.

Burns says they may have to look at relocating to Alexandra, closer to Central Otago Living Options Ltd, a care facility for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

“I think a lot of people don’t stay or move to an area where there is help. [Moving] is always on the cards, I guess, if nothing is going to happen here,” he says.

Michitu, known as Mitchi, currently goes there twice a week.

Burns says it provides a number of activities, including bowling, cooking and exercise sessions.

But transport and funding to help Mitchi attend stops at the end of this school term.

Wakatipu High School principal Steve Hall says his hands are tied.

While Hall understands the family’s concerns, he says there’s very little he can do to help.

“We have been working with and supporting the family to make decisions around the transitions and all the rest of it – but it is not really a school matter.”

Neither CCS Disability Action Southland staffer Rachael Kooman or COLO boss Camille Alabaster could comment, and the Education Ministry didn’t respond by Scene

Burns: “There are not a lot of options for us. He has always been in the school system and when that is finished we will have to take it as it comes [and] see what happens. There is nothing in Queenstown … in time there probably will be, but at the moment there’s nothing.”

The family’s been overwhelmed by the support the community’s given them over the years and Shigeko hopes there’s someone in the Wakatipu with a “great idea” to help.

louise.scott@scene.co.nz