Blind Putaruru boy set for adventure

03:36, Aug 28 2014
Jayke Hopa
MISSION CONTROL: Aspiring singer Jayke Hopa, 13, has won a scholarship to Nasa Space Camp.

When it comes to science Jayke Hopa knows the subject in a different manner than most others.

The 13-year old blind Putaruru College pupil will be launched to space camp next month on a fully paid scholarship.

For Jayke, it is the little things he appreciates.

"I like making fire with a bunsen burner because I like the heat," he said.

Jayke will join more than 200 blind or visually impaired pupils at the US Rocket and Space Center.

He is only one of two New Zealanders attending the programme in Huntsville, Alabama - the home of the facility which developed the Space Shuttle and the Apollo rockets that put the first men on the moon.


But being the creative type, Jayke will be on a programme to suit him.

He was born with two conditions, septo-optic dysplasia and optic nerve hypoplasia, which meant his optic nerves never fully developed.

Anything as simple as doing up buttons or brushing his teeth has been a struggle.

Yet the challenges have never brought him down.

"Practice makes perfect," he said.

Though he awaits the opportunity of a lifetime, he will not be showing off his science skills.

Instead his fingers will do the talking.

The talented self-taught musician often spends hours strumming away and creating new music.

When he first picked up the guitar at five-years old, the urge to make music came naturally.

It only started as a noise but it eventually turned into a dream.

"I want to become a famous musician, I'll write more music and enter more competitions," he said.

The AC/DC and Michael Jackson fan has impressed audiences with the talent.

But his application to the American based trust, Light House, won him the grant.

As a part of the application for the scholarship, Jayke had to submit two essays.

One about his eye condition and the other about his heritage.

And to help the young Ngati Wairere and Maniapoto descendant, resource teacher Nic Holloway put together his application.

Holloway said the programme For Jayke was never all about science.

"It's about gaining confidence and skills," she said.

Holloway said it will be an experience to remember for the small town boy who has never left New Zealand.

"I'm so proud of him, it must be fairly daunting going on a long flight and a big American airport, his life has just been living in Putaruru and Waihi," she said.

She said Jayke would handle new experiences in his life with a smile on his face - no matter how scary they were.

And the "amazement" never stops when it comes to Jayke, she said.

"One time we set up a rowing machine and he had never been on one.

"He felt it and he wasn't sure what would happen when he got on but he did it anyway."

Accompanying Jayke on this wild ride to the camp is Paulette Adsett, a life skills specialist.

"It was just so exciting, he's just such a wonderful boy, he always gives things a go," she said.

Waikato Times