Future Reflections Fall 1991
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THE FOURTH GENERATION ON THE MOVE Reprinted from the June, 1991, Braille Monitor. From the [Braille Monitor] Editor: Today's young Federationists (those in their teens and even younger) know where they want to go and how they intend to get there. They have read Federation literature, attended Federation meetings, and thought about their future. A good example comes from Pocatello, Idaho, where four young blind women are enrolled in the local high school. Betty Sabin, who is President of the Gate City Chapter of the Federation in Pocatello, sends the following newspaper article. If one reads between the lines, not only Federation philosophy but also the study and thought which undergird it are apparent. Here is the article as it appeared in the March 12, 1991, Chieftain, the newspaper of the Pocatello High School:
Blind Students Looking For Acceptance At Poky by Christie Dille What would you do if your P.E. teacher did not allow you to participate in class activities? I think that I and most everybody would rejoice at not having to exercise. But what if you weren't allowed because of who you were, or the instructor thought that you weren't athletic or smart enough, or because they believed you just could not do it. What if you weren't allowed because you were blind? Believe it or not, this type of discrimination occurred at PHS. Three of four blind students here could verify the story. The teacher, however, wasn't being mean or spiteful to the students; most people that discriminate have good intentions. But it was believed that the girls could not handle the activity. This is an example of the type of thinking these four wish to dispel. Merri-beth Sabin, senior; Roxanne Homestead, junior; Jennie Honeycutt, sophomore; and Christie Sabin, sophomore, are four blind students here at PHS. They are all involved in school activities. Roxanne is a member of Soundsations and sergeant at arms of Junior Civitan; Merri-beth is Junior Civitan treasurer, Jennie is a member of the band, flute choir, and Junior Civitan, and Chris would like to be involved in Junior Civitan and drama. These students feel they are just like everyone else, and they don't like being treated as if their blindness is a disease. "Blindness is not a handicap. It's a nuisance." says Roxanne, who is very friendly and outspoken. However, they believe that most kids don't understand that. "Some people are afraid of your blindness, like they could catch it," says Merri-beth, who was the first blind student at PHS. "People don't know how to accept a cane" says Jennie, "or they think you bump into them on purpose." From the students' point of view most people are scared of or just don't understand blindness. Jennie and Chris agree that some people are amazed at everything they do, things that sighted people do everyday. These are misconceptions made by people who think they may understand the handicap. Roxanne and Merri-beth agree that students get more open minded as they become older. However, they state that people still react negatively to their blindness. When asked if negative reactions made them angry, the two replied that it makes them angry because people should know better. On the other hand, it makes them sad when they realize the person has probably been raised in an environment that fosters misconceptions and negative thinking and because of that they don't know better. Despite this, Chris believes that the majority of the time reactions and responses are, and have been, positive. Merri-beth says that it's "the best feeling in the world" to change someone's thoughts and stop prejudices from beginning. As for the future, each of the girls has a career she would like to pursue. Merri-beth plans on going to ISU Vocational-Technical school to study office occupations and to become a secretary or medical transcriptionist. Roxanne wants to become a special education teacher and would also like to have a choir composed of children with handicaps. Chris would like to pursue the performing arts and Jennie would like to continue working with the flute, i.e., teaching, performing, and composing. As you can see, they have ambitions just like any sighted person. "Don't try to ignore us; we want to be normal and not taken out and put aside." says Merri-Beth. "Don't be afraid to walk up to us and say `Hi'," is how Chris sums up the general feeling toward being a blind person, if there can be a general feeling about having any type of handicap. Most of us are quick to make prejudgments; just remember that people with handicaps are really no different than anyone else.