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Teacher to take on charity trek for National Autistic Society
A Radlett teacher has a big challenge ahead of her as she prepares to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for charity later this month.
Joanna Laszczyk will take on the highest mountain in Africa in aid of Radlett Lodge School, where she specialises in teaching young people with autism.
Radlett Lodge is run by the National Autistic Society, a charity offering support to children and adults with the condition and their families.
Ms Laszczyk teaches teenagers aged between 16 and 19, helping them to develop life skills and interact in the community.
The 36-year-old said: “It’s challenging but very rewarding and every small progress makes you happy.
“I think ‘wow’ when a student says a single word after never speaking at all. It’s amazing when they start communicating with you.”
This term is Radlett Lodge’s first teaching students over 16 years old and the school is in need of more equipment for the newcomers.
Ms Laszczyk, who studied autism at Kingston University, explained that she hopes to raise enough money for her employers to buy vital teaching apparatus.
She said: “I don’t know exactly how the money will be spent but we are in need of gym and outdoor equipment as well as iPads.
“Autistic children are very visual so interactive white-boards and iPads are so important. Apple technology even has apps for special needs. The children understand much more when seeing pictures.”
The Polish-born teacher, who will be one of 12 people attempting the climb between October 21 and 31, said she is nervous about the adventure ahead of her.
She said: “The biggest challenge will be the altitude sickness. You just don’t know how your body is going to react.”
“I can’t swim or run very well but I used to work in the mountains in Poland. It will be familiar to me and hard work but enjoyable.
The trek’s final stage is due to be the most challenging for the climbers.
Ms Laszczyk added: “The last night when we walk to the summit will be the worst. We have to start at night and be there at sunrise.
"The temperature will also be very low at the top so I will have to take my winter clothes.”
To donate to Ms Laszczyk's mountain climb visit her Just Giving page.