Learning program helps Mia make grade

Mia (front) with friends Molly, Izabel and Jazmine.

A Sunbury girl born with a rare respiratory condition has her sights set on becoming a zookeeper after graduating from a learning program designed to help her keep up at school.

St Anne’s Primary School pupil Mia McKercher received special tutoring after regularly missing school days due to her condition.

Mia, 9, was born with an abnormal connection between the upper part of the oesophagus and windpipe. She underwent surgery to correct the condition when she was a day old but continues to be susceptible to sickness.

Mia’s mother, Victoria, says she was enrolled in the Ronald McDonald Learning Program after staff at the Royal Children’s Hospital noticed she was falling behind in her school work.


‘‘A lot of it was anxiety,’’ Ms McKercher said. ‘‘Often she knew the work but she would get anxious and the tears would well up.’’

Tutors tailored a special program that took Mia through what she would be learning in class ahead of time. They also worked to improve her speech, which had been affected by her condition.

‘‘That gave her the confidence to have a go,’’ Ms McKercher says. ‘‘She’s a completely different kid now. She’s so happy.’’

Cold weather still presents some problems for Mia.

‘‘But because she’s happy to go to school and be with her friends I think her health has improved as well,’’ Ms McKercher says. ‘‘She’s having a lot less sick days now.’’

For more details on the Ronald McDonald Learning Program, visit www.rmhc.org.au