By Kim Goldberg
July 30, 2013
Jaden and Evan Jeske are bright, active adolescent boys with a passion for martial arts and two rooms filled with awards, trophies and belts to prove it.
This past year, 12-year-old Jaden attended Grade 6 at Happy Valley Elementary School, while his 14-year-old brother spent the year being home-schooled.
These different approaches to schooling the two boys were a product of necessity, not choice. Both boys are electrosensitive. Jaden was lucky enough to be attending a school that had minimal wi-fi and none near his classroom. Evan was not. And the Sooke school district on southern Vancouver Island has, to date, been unwilling to accommodate electrosensitive students.
“There is no place for discrimination in schools,” says the boys’ mother Tammy, who is also a nurse. “Sadly, we’ve had to hire a lawyer to see if our son and others like him will be afforded accommodation so they can attend public school without the threat of ill symptoms.”
(Tammy’s twitter handle is @4safeschools.)
The Jeskes have now removed all computer wi-fi, cordless phones and other sources of microwave radiation from their upscale home in Langford, a western suburb of Victoria, and replaced it with hard-wired equivalents.
At night they shut off the electricity to the bedrooms, and all members of the family sleep under special shielding canopies to block the wireless radiation from four nearby cell phone towers.
“As parents, it is beyond frustrating that we cannot stop a 2b carcinogen on the World Health Organization’s warning list from permeating our children’s bedrooms at night,” she adds.
heart palpitations, headaches, sore throats, insomnia
The boys remember what their lives were like before their sensitivity was discovered and the wireless radiation removed from their home.
“I had heart palpitations when wi-fi was on,” Evan tells me. “And I had headaches because I had a metal plate in my mouth, which amplifies it and shoots it right to my brain.”
Jaden recalls his own allergy-like symptoms before the family got rid of the wireless router for the computers: “My throat was really sore. I had a lot of trouble breathing and a lot of mucus. Then they turned off the wi-fi, and right away I could breathe—within one day.”
Like her sons, Tammy is also electrosensitive. “I was going insane from months of sleep insomnia,” she says of her life before the canopy. “Now, we are all enjoying good health, due largely to the benefits of deep, restorative sleep without disruption.”
Tammy’s husband Robb has written no less than five letters to BC Hydro refusing installation of a wireless smart meter on the home.
“We have too many historical examples where something was promoted as safe only to be uncovered later that it was not because of the latency of exposure and corresponding disease, or that the risk was understated by those with a vested interest,” says Robb.
In June 2013, the Jeskes’ lawyer David Aaron filed a 43-page appeal with the BC Ministry of Education aimed at forcing the Sooke school district to provide “meaningful access to general education by way of a WiFi-free learning environment in a classroom where the [electrosensitive] students are integrated with other students…”
The appeal has been filed on behalf of both Jeske boys and a third electrosensitive boy in the Sooke school district, 8-year-old Tyler Hoffmann. If successful, the case will set a precedent that can be used to protect students from classroom wi-fi throughout the province and beyond.
a safe haven needed in every school district
It would also be a step toward compliance with the policies adopted in 2012 by the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, which call for a moratorium on installation of further wi-fi in BC schools plus a minimum of one school at each level in each district to be free of wi-fi to accommodate electrosensitive students.
“The World Health Organization has classified this exposure as a possible human carcinogen, category 2b,” Tammy explains. “Other examples of 2b carcinogens include lead, DDT, methyl-mercury, chloroform, HIV, diesel fumes and car exhaust. Would we allow children to be exposed to these all day? No way—not without a lawsuit!”
Tammy has had to cut back her nursing hours this past year in order to home-school Evan and work on the legal challenge. But it’s worth it, she says.
“We’re doing this for everybody’s children,” says Tammy, “not just the three children named in the appeal.”
The change to school district policy can’t come soon enough for the Jeskes, who want both of their boys to be able to safely attend public school in September without risk of debilitating illness from wireless routers in classrooms.
“It’s not about doing without technology,” says Tammy. “It’s about using it as safely as possible. Our family uses the Internet like every other family—we just choose to do it with wires.”
To donate to the legal fund for electrosensitive children sickened by wi-fi in schools, go here.
Text and images © Kim Goldberg, 2013
(The Jeske family’s story will be included in Kim Goldberg’s forthcoming book REFUGIUM: Wi-Fi Exiles and the Coming Electroplague, due out in 2015. Read more people’s stories here.)