Ashanti Elliott-Smith was reportedly devastated and humiliated when her teacher forced her to remove her purple wig in class. Although the teacher’s request may seem relatively justifiable, there’s one conflicting detail about the whole ordeal. Ashanti suffers from a Hutchinson Gilford Progeria. For those who aren’t familiar with Progeria, it is a terminal illness that affects age progression. She suffers from “stunted growth, hair loss, weight loss, wrinkled skin, stiff joints, and heart disease,” reports the Daily Mail. So, the 11-year-old girl looks more like an 80-year-old as opposed to a young child.
The 11-year-old, who isn’t expected to live until the age of 15, simply wanted hair like all of the other girls. While most may take normalcy for granted, its something Ashanti longs for. Her mother, Phoebe Smith, stated that the wig was given to her daughter as a gift on Wednesday, Oct. 22. The child reportedly “fell in love” with the hair and wanted to wear it to school the following day.
When Ashanti arrived at the Oakmeeds Community College in Burgess Hill West Sussex on Thursday, Oct. 23, her mother cited several teachers actually complimented her daughter’s new hair. However, things took a devastating turn shortly after Ashanti made it to class. Her mother released a lengthy statement about her daughter’s disheartening devastation, reports Mirror UK.
“She was devastated when they told her to take it off. Her little heart was broken,” said Ashanti’s mother. “It’s disgusting. It is bright but she should have the right to wear whatever color [sic] hair she wants. She was so proud of her hair but this has put her on a downer. When I took her into school three teachers by the office said she looked glamorous and beautiful and said how lovely her wig was. But as soon as I turned my back they told her to remove it. It was so embarrassing for her. It was the first time she wore the wig into school and she has not been back in since last Thursday. It’s a pink wig, come on, other children would have understood. I have only got a few years left with her so we want her to live it to the full.”
Although the humiliation is quite disheartening, the headmaster at the school has openly supported the teacher’s disciplinary action. Colin Taylor, Headteacher Oakmeeds Community College, also released a statement in reference to the ordeal.
“Ashanti attended school in a large purple wig which was the first time she had appeared in school wearing a wig or any form of head wear. Her Learning Mentor, who meets her every morning and supports her throughout the day along with a Learning Support Assistant, spoke to the Head of Year about it. It was agreed by the Director of Inclusion and Head of Year that Ashanti would wear the wig home but not in lessons because it was not cold in the school and she had never wanted to wear one before,” Taylor said.
“We tried to discuss this with Ashanti’s mother on Thursday but we were not able to make contact with her. We have worked closely with Ashanti’s mother to ensure her wishes that her daughter is treated like all other pupils are met. Ashanti is a pleasure to have in the school and we believe we have done everything we can to meet both her needs and her mother’s requirements during the first half term. Ashanti has settled well at Oakmeeds.
“At no time to our knowledge did she request special consideration about head wear but we would fully understand it if Ashanti was to need a hat or indeed a wig when the weather gets cold – even indoors.
“In the past other children have worn wigs following serious illness, but ones that were of a natural look – not large brightly coloured ones. We are more than happy to discuss this with Ashanti and her mum when College starts again next week after the half term break,” Taylor said.
Do you think Ashanti should be allowed to wear her purple wig in class? Share your thoughts.
[Image via Facebook, Phoebe Smith]