len's masthead




londoner editor pic





One of the perks about writing an opinion column is that you get to meet some very nice people. Recently I was invited over to interview/visit with the Jevnikar family in Old London South.

Let me introduce you to the Jevnikars an ordinary, special family of five. Pennie, is a dentist, and proud mother of three daughters: Adriadne at 26 is the oldest and attends the University of Western Ontario. To keep the oldest child company the folks had Rebecca now 20 and Sarah 19 who were both born prematurely.

Approximately 10% of ‘Preemies’ develop Retenopathy of the Premature where the Retina doesn’t develop properly. Rebecca who is legally blind reads enlarged print. Sarah has absolutely no sight and is a whiz with the help of Brail.

Gee, I nearly forgot to introduce you to the patriarch of the family, John, who works for the Canadian Department of National Defense in Information Technology. With a four to one female vs male advantage he ‘suffers graciously.’

I met Sarah at the downtown Y where she was taking her Catholic Central physical education program. She was a sight to behold when she beat up her treadmill. Sarah would run without having to hold on and many times the machine would just quit. Never mind, Sarah would boot it up and continue running.

Here is the amazing story of Sarah and her family. She is in grade twelve at Catholic Central High School in the University level courses with a ninety percent average. The teachers comments: ‘A pleasure to have in class’.Being very musical Sarah attended the St Mary’s Choir & Orchestra School enjoying voice, violin and piano. Having perfect pitch is a great help in her musical pursuits.

Sarah enjoys the challenges of sports and after thirteen years with Sensi Zeke Petkovic has earned a Blue Belt in Seikido . Our young athlete loves to play: baseball, downhill skis and runs five kilometer cross country races in under thirty minutes.

The family has had lots of professional help in their daughters’ critical early years. Dr Shaheed the family pediatrician was there when needed. The parents learned to be proactive forming the ‘Child Light’ organization with four other parents helping fifty other families in Western Ontario.

John and Pennie emphasized that there was no such word as can’t. ‘You have to figure out what works and then you do it. Your children have to learn to advocate for themselves and not be afraid to ask for help. Accepting, that is the way it is and being flexible is key. Being adaptable and focusing on the positive is paramount to finding success.’

Sarah’s recipe for happiness are copious amounts of music, lots of laughter along with a caring family and good friends.

Pennie keeps her balance with a good sense of humour to get her through the day. John advises parents to get involved with your children’s education. ‘ Don’t complaign; be pro-active, learn to share your knowledge with the teachers in a collaborative cordial two way street of information.’

Sarah regards her lack of vision as merely a challenging irritant; she would not change her lot in life. She values her independence and with a positive outlook on the future she looks forward to being able to help people.

The Jevnikar family are wonderful role models for those of who have eyes but can not see the vast panoramic advantages that they possess, Negativity and focusing on the negative is not in the best interest of our children.

Recently I heard from her grandmother who proudly spoke about her two special amazing granddaughters. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario after attaining her degree in Engineering and now is pursuing a Masters degree.

Sarah is in her fourth year of a very challenging program in Actuarial Science at the University of Toronto with a scholarship to help pay for her tuition.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com