GETTING MORE TALE #595: Fighting for Kenner and Ivy
Sorry for the lack of musical content in this instalment of Getting More Tale, usually a series of stories about music. In lieu of a music story, I’ll include my Top Five Tracks About Fighting for a Good Cause at the end!
Our friend Kenner Fee has not given up the fight, so neither will we.
Kenner has Autism. And Ivy is a Black Lab. Ivy calms Kenner’s anxieties and helps him cope with school and socializing. Outside of school, the two are inseparable. At school however, Ivy isn’t allowed to be with Kenner. The Waterloo Catholic District School Board says that Kenner doesn’t need a service dog. Kenner’s doctors, psychologists, therapists, parents and the Lions Foundation say otherwise.
Kenner’s parents, Craig and Amy. have been fighting with the WCDSB for over three years to get them to allow Ivy to attend school with Kenner at St. Kateri Catholic Elementary School in Kitchener. The fight has now escalated to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, where the Fee’s have had to invest thousands of dollars into lawyers and their charges, out of pocket. While the WCDSB has, what seems to be, unlimited taxpayer resources to pay for their lawyers.
Kenner was denied his basic human right to have his service dog in class with him. Allow me to share a little bit about what I know of Kenner, because I see quite a few people are misinformed about this situation.
Ivy is not a therapy dog, as some sources have stated. She is a service dog, trained and matched by the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. Some bystanders have asked, “What about kids who are afraid of dogs?” An excellent question, and I think Kenner’s supporters have offered a lot of great suggestions about that. The truth is, if you have ever met a service dog, you know that they basically just…lay there! That’s part of the training. Second, having a service dog in a school would be a rare and valuable teaching experience. I was terrified of dogs as a kid. I’d run and they’d give chase! Ivy would not do that, because she is a service dog. If I had the chance to meet a dog like Ivy as a kid, it really would have helped me get over my fear of dogs earlier.
Another legitimate question has been about kids with allergies. Supporters have suggested solutions to these problems too. None of them are unsolvable. I’m terribly allergic myself. If there happens to be only one class for Kenner’s grade, make sure the classroom doesn’t have carpet flooring, and keep Kenner on the opposite side of the room as any kids with allergies. Ensure that teachers have a supply of each child’s allergy medication — Reactine, Visine, whatever. Why is every other child’s needs more important than Kenner’s? Allergies are real, but so is autism. And the results Kenner has seen because of Ivy are extraordinary. I know a little bit more about the situation than I can talk about, but I can say this.
I’ve seen Kenner, with Ivy at his side, give an amazing speech in front of hundreds of adults. I couldn’t believe it. Seeing that knocked me out; he made me see what potential can be unlocked. He’s a gifted young man. He deserves to be able to go to school and be at his best. The Catholic school board keeps talking about how they assess each kid on a case by case basis. It is interesting to note that they don’t have any service dogs in any of their schools in Ontario. A child in Burlington is currently fighting the same battle as Kenner Fee, for the same reason. He too has autism. I wonder if the Catholic School Board is fighting this so hard simply because it’s easier than doing the work to accommodate. Currently, the Board is denying Kenner his basic right to fulfill his potential in school. They say he gets good grades without Ivy. That may be true, but he is truly exceptional when he is with her. I have seen this and I admire the little guy.
This is an expensive fight. A GoFundMe page has been set up.
We’re asking the public to join us in raising funds to help the Fee’s offset a fraction of the legal expenses they’ve personally incurred throughout the Human Rights Tribunal. Anything raised over our target amount will be donated to the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, where Ivy was obtained.
Even if you can’t donate, every comment helps! I know for a fact that Kenner is blown away by the amount of support he’s seen. “I didn’t know so many people cared about me!” he said after a recent service dog protest. He loves to know he has support so feel free to leave a comment, and we’ll make sure his parents get them!
#KennerAndIvy #WeStandWithKennerAndIvy #IStandWithKennerAndIvy
Top Five Tracks About Fighting for a Good Cause
5. Triumph – “Fight the Good Fight”
4. Warrior – “Fighting for the Earth”
3. Motley Crue – “Fight for Your Rights”
2. Bob Marley – “Get Up Stand Up”
1. Tom Petty – “I Won’t Back Down”
In the top photo there is a service dog and a Party Dog. Can you tell which is which?