By Kath Gannaway
“Carter is a happy-go-lucky child who won’t let anything stop him.”
That was the caption under a photo of a smiling four-year-old Carter Morrissey when he featured on the front page of Upper Yarra Mail in November 2010.
Mail journalist Mara Sowden’s estimation of Carter, now 11 and in year six at Gladysdale Primary School, was spot on.
Carter stands out for lots of reasons.
One of them is the physical scarring from several operations to remove a giant birthmark which from birth covered a large part of the right side of his head and face.
The medical term is a ‘nevus’ and one in every 500,000 children is born with the severe form of the congenital melanocytic nevus which covers more than two per cent of the body.
He had his first operation to remove the nevus when he was just 18 months old, has had several more over the years, and just recently has been fast-tracked for more scar revision and work on his eye brow.
The other reason, is pretty much everything about Carter that has branded him as a well-adjusted, energetic, resilient and motivated leader at Gladysdale Primary.
Carter was voted in as one of two school captains, along with Jessica Bennett, after successfully pitching to the whole school at the end of last year.
On Thursday, 22 February, they were officially presented with their captain’s badges by Casey MP and Federal Speaker of the House, Tony Smith and new school principal Jeff de Villa.
Members of the Student Representative Council and House Captains were also presented with their badges.
“These are role models for you; leaders for you; and they will be doing the very best they can for your school,” Mr Smith told the younger students.
“They have taken on a very big responsibility and will need your help to do that.”
Carter’s mum, Clare, dad Steve and three of his six brothers and sisters were at the special assembly, beaming with pride.
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Carter leads the way
From page 1
Carter didn’t say a lot at that 2010 interview – he let his big smile do the talking – but seven years on, he is brave and articulate when it comes to talking about what life is like when you have a physical difference.
Growing up in a small community is definitely an advantage. And being one of seven kids is also a grounding experience.
“When I first came to the school I was stared at, and I’m still stared at, but only by the little kids who are new to the school,” he said.
Typically, he sees that reaction as an opportunity.
“I feel like a lot of my classmates know how it works (his nevus) and over the years have told others about it.
“I think it’s kind of that way with littler kids too. Other kids explain to them and then they understand that if they see any person like me, they know some people can be the same, even though they are not always exactly the same as them,” he said.
He loves his sport, playing basketball and netball, which also puts him in contact with his peers outside of the school, and is serious about getting into competitive swimming.
Next year he starts all over again at Upper Yarra Secondary College, but with a year of leadership under his belt … and three older siblings to show him the ropes, he says he is confident that the positive experience he has had at primary school will continue.
See more school photos at mailcommunity.com.au . Read the Upper Yarra Mail’s original story at http://bit.ly/2FoQ0ed .