Blast Off: Help needed to launch Mosman's Jett Thompson to Space Camp USA!
By PETA GARRETT
Photography by GRAHAM MONRO at gmphotographics
THE sky’s no longer the limit for 10-year-old Jett Thompson.
The Mosman local is the first primary school student in NSW to be granted a scholarship to Space Camp for Visually Impaired Students at the US Space and Rocket Center in Alabama.
Jett, who is in Year 5 at Mosman Public School, lost his vision suddenly and permanently at the age of 8 as a result of a brain tumour.
Since then, he has had to adjust to life without vision, relearning tasks such as eating, dressing, playing, reading using Braille and navigating his way around using his cane.
It’s been a tough road, but Jett has always reached for the stars, says his mum Anna Milward.
“We weren’t sure quite how things would go, but I think he’s surprised us all,” Anna says.
“We’ve always tried to give him the attitude that he can still do everything he did before, but maybe a bit differently, and to see him have this drive and determination to succeed, we’re really proud.”
And succeed he has. Over the past two years Jett has competed at the State Zone Swimming Championships, played saxophone in the school band by memorising the music by ear, run in a 5k fun run and learnt how to code using screen reader computer software.
It’s Jett’s passion for science and technology that has driven his desire to go to Space Camp.
“I like stuff about space and chemistry and quantum physics because it’s unusual,” Jett tells Mosman Collective.
“I like all the new things that we’re finding. I’m particularly interested in stars and planets.”
Jett was chosen from hundreds of applicants around the world to attend Space Camp in September along with 180 kids who will spend the week learning about real-world applications of science, technology, engineering and maths.
“I’m a little nervous about going there but I’ll feel more excited when it comes around,” Jett says with a smile.
“It’ll be fun and interesting and I’m looking forward to doing the activities, especially the zero-gravity simulation.”
For mum Anna, the trip is not only educational, but gives Jett the chance to learn life skills.
“This is an incredible opportunity for him to spend a week learning and developing not only his science, maths and robotics skills, but also his independence, resilience and more,” Anna says.
“If he can go he can hopefully pave the way for other vision impaired students to take advantage of opportunities like this in future years.”
In order for Jett to attend Space Camp, he must be accompanied by a parent and his vision teacher, who will support him during his time there.
While Jett’s flights and accommodation are covered by his scholarship, the travel and accommodation costs for his Dad and vision teacher are not.
Jett’s friends and teachers are on a mission to cover these costs and are holding a fundraiser at Warringah Bowls Mosman on Monday July 23 from 6pm-9pm.
The night will feature a Q&A with visiting US earth scientist Tom Nolan, gourmet sausage sandwiches and a raffle.
Tickets can be purchased at www.trybooking.com/WTYC