by Carol Castellano
     From the Editor: Beginnings and Blueprints is the title

of the latest Kernel Book in our series of paperbacks about

blindness. The following delightful little piece appears in

the book. It begins with Dr. Jernigan's introduction. Here

it is:
     Carol Castellano and her husband Bill are leaders in

the National Federation of the Blind's organization for

parents of blind children. They live in New Jersey with

their children Serena and John. Serena is blind and John is

sighted. For both of these children the future is filled

with exhilarating possibilities. With sparkle, pride, and

belief Carol shares some of them with us. Here is what she

has to say:
     It took my daughter Serena a long time to decide just

what she wanted to be when she grew up. Whereas my son was

only four when he decided that he would be a dinosaur

scientist, it wasn't until she was seven that Serena

realized that her destiny in life was to be a folk singer.

She happily played the chords to her favorite song, "Michael

Row the Boat Ashore," on my guitar.
     Then came the Presidential campaign of 1992. Serena was

eight. She sat rapt before the television listening intently

to the speeches of both parties. After the summer's two

national conventions, she realized that it wasn't a folk

singer that she wanted to be after all . . . it was a

folksinging Senator. By late fall, having heard all three

Presidential debates, Serena was going to be President.
     Her barrage of questions about how she could learn to

be President and conversations about what politicians do

kept up for so long that my husband and I were convinced she

really might go into politics when she was older.
     In the late spring of this year, Serena went out with

her father to pick early snow peas from the garden. Coming

inside with her basket of peas, she told me she was very

interested in gardening. "That's wonderful," I replied.

"You'll be a big help to Daddy."
     Overnight Serena's interest must really have taken

root, because the next day she asked me if I thought the

gardens at the White House were too big for the President to

tend, since the President is such a busy person. "Yes," I

replied. "I'm sure there's a staff of people who take care

of the White House gardens." "Well then, I won't be a

gardening President," she told me. "I'll just be a

     The desire to be a gardener was still but a tender

shoot when Serena took a piano lesson--just a few weeks

after picking those peas--and realized it was a pianist she

wanted to be!
     Serena is at such a wonderful stage of life! Interested

in everything, trying everything out, she sees the world as

her plum, ripe for the picking. She believes in herself, as

we believe in her. And since what people believe largely

determines what they do, it is critically important for

parents of blind children (and other adults in the child's

life) to have positive beliefs about blindness and what

blind people can do.
     If we are told (in a journal article or by a teacher of

the blind, say) that blind children usually do not or cannot

learn how to do a certain task and if we come to believe

this, chances are we will not give our child the experience

or opportunity anyone would need in order to do this task.

And chances are the child won't learn to do it.
     Imagine, though, if we--and our blind children--were

never told that blind people couldn't accomplish a certain

thing. Imagine what the results might be if everyone

believed that blind people could do anything they wanted to!

Well, I believe this--and attending NFB National Conventions

has solidified this belief for me. It is this belief which

guides the way I bring up my daughter.
     My husband and I know personally or have heard speak a

blind high school teacher, a college professor, a

mathematician, a scientist, a car body mechanic, an

industrial arts teacher, a Foreign Service officer, an

engineer, a high-performance engine builder, and a man who

has sailed solo in races from San Francisco to Hawaii. This

makes it possible for us to glory in the exhilarating

feeling of watching a child look toward the future and see

only possibilities.

          Planned giving takes place when a contributor

     decides to leave a substantial gift to charity. It

     means planning as you would for any substantial

     purchase--a house, college tuition, or a car. The

     most common forms of planned giving are wills and

     life insurance policies. There are also several

     planned giving options through which you can

     simultaneously give a substantial contribution to

     the National Federation of the Blind, obtain a tax

     deduction, and receive lifetime income now or in

     the future. For more information write or call the

     National Federation of the Blind, Special Gifts,

     1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230-

     4998, (410) 659-9314, fax (410) 685-5653.