High school athlete helps visually impaired junior pursue physical-ed

Published: December 24, 2013

Aldergrove Community’s Mehala Breederland (right) helps visually-impaired student Harjinder Kaur Saran on PE class. PNG photo.


SURREY — High school is a place to a learn multitude of lessons, but sometimes its best classes aren’t the ones that offer field trips or even issue final grades.

And sometimes, if you’re willing to veer off the beaten path of the core curriculum, like Mehala Breederland elected to do this past September, the end result is an experience no text book is capable of providing.

“I had a mix-up with my schedule and I didn’t want to take a spare,” the Grade 11 student-athlete at Aldergrove Community School explains, “but now I am so thankful.”

That’s because when it was explained to her that one of the school’s visually-impaired students, ninth grader Harjinder Kaur Saran, needed assistance in the pursuit of her phys-ed credit, Breederland knew immediately that she was answering a calling.

“With all of the time we spend together, and just getting to know her so much better, I can at least start to understand what it is like to be blind,” says Breederland, who this past fall played for the Totems senior varsity volleyball team, and will play for its soccer team in the spring. “But also, you begin to understand a lot more in the social sense as well. I might notice that she is not hanging around with anyone at lunch, so we’ll have lunch together. I am even starting to learn braille, but it’s pretty difficult.”

Yet if you ask Breederland, she’ll tell you that the act of volunteering always has its way of giving back, and in ways that go beyond anything tangible. And at her school, she’s made some pretty big fans.

“She’s one of the most giving students I have ever met,” says Stuart Crowley, a teacher at the school. “She is incredibly selfless.”

Since the age of 11, Breederland has been a mainstay at her church, helping with a kids program, and with its 11 a.m. Sunday pancake breakfasts.

“We serve anyone who walks through the front door,” she says.

And it doesn’t stop there.

She’s a Big Sister to an area third grader, and she just finished a seven-week group mentoring program for Grade 6 girls.

“We really focused on a healthy lifestyle and body image stuff,” she says.

There is still one more year of high school remaining for her, but after that, she thinks, a post-secondary career geared towards becoming an occupational therapist, is likely in the cards.

Whatever she winds up doing, she knows she will be helping. That’s something she can’t help but do.

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