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Date: 30th July 2018

A teenager with mobility problems has taken the first steps towards her dream of working with animals thanks to a helping hand from Askham Bryan College.

Olivia Simon a former Askham Bryan College student and animal technician, tutor Lauren Gibson and Elysia Cusworth during her VIP

When the College heard how the plucky teenager was determined not to let her health challenges stand in the way of her career ambitions, they got in touch and offered 14 year old Elysia Cusworth a VIP tour of their Middlesbrough Campus at Stewart Park, including the chance to get hands on with the animals.

The College specialises in animal management courses – from diploma level through to degrees as well as access to the Wildlife Park and Equine Centre at its York centre. The Middlesbrough campus boasts state of the art facilities in what was a former Victorian stable block. It is now home to a wide range of animals, birds and reptiles which are an integral part of student studies.

Elysia has mobility difficulties after damaging her hip three years ago when she jumped into the splits. Using crutches, a wheelchair and a mobility scooter became a major part of her life, as was coping with incredible pain, but recently she has been building up her endurance and has managed to walk unaided.

Nick Barnes, Campus Director said: “It was very clear to us that Elysia is a determined and resourceful person so as we run a wide range of animal management courses, we thought we could help and provide an experience to remember. Her grit and courage are truly impressive.”

Elysia and her mum Janine visited on Wednesday (27 July),for a behind the scenes look meeting a host of creatures including Patsy a Leopard Tortoise, Zeus, a Royal Python and her favourite? ...Nookah, a lively Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec. She also got an insight into what it's like to study at the college from former students Olivia Simon and Molly Lownsbrough who are both now working there as animal management instructors.

She said: “I've had an absolutely brilliant time, I just loved it all. I knew about Askham Bryan from when they came to my school to talk about the courses they run. It was perfect as my dream is to work with animals. and I'm particularly interested in studying their behaviour, perhaps even working abroad,  so this is a great first step.”  She is a pupil at Ingelby Manor School and is taking her GCSEs next year.

Mrs Cusworth said: “Coping with her mobility limitations has been so difficult for Elysia, and we're used to battling systems to achieve things for her, so for Askham Bryan to take the initiative to ring up and offer this was wonderful. She just loves animals, and always has. It's great to feel you have people on your side trying to help, not putting up barriers.”

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Askham Bryan College,
Askham Bryan,
YO23 3FR
01904 772277