CARING primary school pupils wore jeans for a day to support a charity for genetic disorders – and for their little friend Jack Layton.
The gregarious five-year-old who attends Wickham CofE Primary suffers from the second most aggressive form of muscular dystrophy.
Jack is still able to walk and run but he tires quickly because his muscles are weak. And his condition is set to get worse over time.
But pupils and staff are determined to support him and took part in the sponsored Jeans for Genes 2011 day alongside schools across the area including Milton Park Primary in Portsmouth.
The charity helps fund research into genetic disorders as well as care for afflicted families.
Jack said: ‘My legs are tired sometimes because my muscles don’t work as well as other people’s.
‘But I’m really happy everyone is wearing jeans for me. Thank you. Everyone is my best friend here. I’m very lucky.’
The youngster was diagnosed with Becker’s muscular dystrophy 18 months ago. For now it affects his leg muscles which are wasting away, but the degeneration will eventually spread to the rest of his body.
Mum Jules, 35, said: ‘I want Jack to make friends, and I don’t want them to be fearful of him.
‘His condition is going to get worse and it’s important for the children to have an understanding of the disease and what he’s going through.’
Jack has an adjustable wooden chair and a tricycle so he can accompany friends on trips to the park.
He has just been fitted for a wheelchair.
Sophie Jackson-Way, 11, said: ‘We understand what’s wrong with Jack and everyone here looks out for him because he is brilliant.
‘If he falls we all rush to help him up – he’s such a nice, little boy, and we all love him very much.
‘We know that no matter what happens he will always be Jack.’
Jack’s classmate Alfie Lancaster, five, said: ‘I like wearing jeans because I want to support Jack who is my friend. I hope we get to wear jeans every year.’
Headteacher Maria Ackland said she was determined to raise awareness of the disease at the school.
She explained: ‘Jack is just one of the children’s friends now, but as adults we know what’s in store for him as he grows older.
‘The children are now becoming aware of that and they want to do what they can to help.
‘It’s important for us that as Jack’s condition worsens we are all there for him and his family.’
The £178 raised by Wickham pupils will go to Jeans for Genes, which has pledged £20,000 to the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.
It recently announced a breakthrough for a cure for Duchenne, the most serious form of muscular dystrophy.
Mrs Layton hopes this could lead to a cure for Becker’s.