When he was in elementary school, White Rock's Chris Pritchard suffered from a variety of learning disabilities that made learning and advancing more difficult than normal.
Unable to take adequate notes, Pritchard fell behind his peers in numerous aspects of coursework. He struggled with math and had an inability to understand projects and assignments.
It wasn't until Pritchard enrolled at the Eaton Arrowsmith School (EAS) in Vancouver that things turned around. There, Pritchard learned skills necessary to comprehend and assess information like many of his peers and now that same opportunity is coming to White Rock with the opening of a new branch of the EAS this fall.
"Throughout our lifetime at the (Vancouver) location we've had a lot of interest from people throughout the region, the Fraser Valley and Surrey," said Luciana Holmes, EAS White Rock principal. "Before, the commute was like three or four hours a day depending on where you're coming from, and it's not a reasonable expectation for a child to sit in a car for hours."
Now, said Holmes, students will be able to enroll in the EAS much closer to home and hopefully get on track with addressing their learning difficulties sooner rather than later.
"Usually a three-to four-year program is expected and then (students) will stream back into the school system," said Holmes.
As for the school's methods, the EAS utilizes the Arrowsmith Program to help students with learning disabilities strengthen the parts of their brains struggling with course material.
"The Arrowsmith program is based around the idea of 'neuroplasticity,' which means the brain is plastic and can change with engaged exercises that isolate those struggling areas with really tough repetitive exercises," explained Holmes. "It changes those areas of the brain, strengthens them and brings it back up to a normal capacity for learning."
The program was developed more than 30 years ago by psychologist Barbara Arrowsmith Young, who herself suffered learning disabilities in her youth.
Set to open in September, the White Rock location is at #300-1538 Foster St. and will accommodate 25 students for its first term.
"We have a few spots left and we're still speaking with parents about enrolment if they need," said Holmes.
Those interested in learning more are asked to attend an EAS information session on Aug. 14 at the White Rock location from 1 to 3 p.m. or go to www. eatonarrowsmithschool.com.