Professor Stephen Hawking inspires disabled children at a Penarth school


7 October 2016


PROFESSOR Stephen Hawking has taken time out to inspire children from Ysgol y Deri, who also use technology to communicate.


Ysgol y Deri

The world-renowned cosmologist answered questions from two pupils at the school during an E-interview.


Eighteen-year-old Joe Skibinski and Luke Hughes, who is 12, were selected for the honour.


Joe uses switches to communicate, while Luke’s is understood through an Eye Gaze.


Eighteen-year-old Joe said: “Hi. I am Joe. I go to Ysgol y Deri. I have a disability just like you. I live in Cardiff. I look up to you.


“As one of the greatest scientists of our time, what scientific discovery might be

 possible in the near future to change the lives of people with severe disabilities and what advice would you give students with challenges today?”


Professor Hawking answered: “Genetic research to identify and correct the genres responsible for disabilities. Also effective brain computer interfaces, though this may not be possible without brain implants which I don't fancy.”


Luke said: “My name is Luke. I am 12. I have a condition called schizencephaly. Do you think there could be another ‘Luke’ in a parallel universe?”

In response, professor Hawking said: “There will be another Luke in a parallel universe but you can't communicate with him.”


The exchange came about after Assistive Technology Advisory Teacher Lisa Rees-Renshaw was able to make contact with professor Hawking.


By chance she found herself camping next to his nurse in France.


Ms Rees-Renshaw also got in touch with award-winning writer and film director Simon Fitzmaurice, who uses an Eye Gaze to write and speak, to ask for an inspirational message to be printed on certificates for children at the school who have shown progress in using their communication systems.


The pupils were also awarded a special plaque to mark their achievements.


The message came in the form of a poem, and read:


I don't want your pity. 

I don't need it. 

I am strong. 

I have been through many things and these things make me strong. 

I am not like most people.  

I am stronger than most people. 

I am different. 

Just like you.