Future Reflections Fall 1994, Vol. 13 No. 3

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PARENT POWER
 

The following reports are from two of the parent division affiliates of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). For more information about the NOPBC and the nearest state or regional parent chapter to you, contact:

Mrs. Barbara Cheadle, President
National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
1800 Johnson Street Baltimore, Maryland 21230
(410) 659-9314.

National Organization of Parents of Blind Children

Goals and Objectives
1. To create a climate of opportunity for blind children in home and society.
2. To provide information and support to parents of blind children.
3. To facilitate the sharing of experiences and concerns among parents of blind children.
4. To develop and expand resources available to parents and their children.
5. To help parents of blind children gain perspective through partnership and contact with blind adults.
6. To function as an integral part of the National Federation of the Blind in its ongoing effort to eliminate discrimination and prejudice against the blind and to achieve for the blind security, equality, and opportunity.


REPORT FROM CALIFORNIA
by Shirley Baillif, President
Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB of California

During the 1993 California State Convention, the POBC of CA sponsored a Luncheon Show presenting talents of our blind children. Those participating were:

Beth Kats, daughter of Gerret and Esther Kats. Beth shared her beautiful voice first by singing a grace to the tune of Edelweiss (with original words befitting the NFB); then later she sang "The Rose" and "The Sound of Music." Beth is a high school senior. She sings soprano and participates in her school's choir. She has taken voice lessons for 5-6 years.

Blanca Burrows, the four-year-old daughter of Roy and Lynda Burrows. Blanca spent her first three years in an orphanage south of Tecate, Baja California, Mexico, before being adopted by Roy and Lynda. When she joined the Burrows family, she walked very little and had a vocabulary of only about ten words. After less than two years of T.L.C. (tender loving care) she is rapidly gaining physically and academically. With this adverse background, we were especially thrilled to have Blanca give the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

Lisa Davis, the ten-year-old daughter of Todd and Sharon Davis, and Belinda Surita, the sixteen-year-old daughter of Alma Basile. These two girls have been taking Judo lessons for 2-3 years. They demonstrated several moves but stopped before they completed any throws since we did not have a mat. They have competed successfully against sighted Judo students. Their instructor, Sen Sa Gomez, did not arrive in time to explain their moves as they performed them, so the girls tried to do this themselves. Sheryl Pickering came to the rescue by keeping the microphone near the speaker. In so doing, she was forced to be quite the contortionist.

Cyrus Keir, ten-year-old son of Dave and Carol Keir. Cyrus played the cello. He is learning to play from the Suzuki method. He played the "French Folk Song-Traditional" and "Minuet in C" by Bach. What a thrill!

Lisa Davis went from Judo expert to comedienne to conclude our talent show. Look out President Maurer! Her jokes were as corny as yours and as delightful to hear. [Marc Maurer is President of the National Federation of the Blind. Mr. Maurer sends out monthly presidential reports on cassette tapes to NFB chapters. He concludes every tape with a selection of jokes.]

We also had the privilege of hearing Denise Bravell, an adult blind child, playing on the keyboard. The hotel did not have a piano so Denise brought her small keyboard. She played a medley of tunes before the luncheon while people were being seated, and she also accompanied Beth when she sang.

We received many positive remarks and requests to do it again and that is what we plan to do at the 1994 California State Convention-another great Luncheon Show featuring the talents of our blind children.

REPORT FROM MINNESOTA
NEW PARENTS DIVISION ORGANIZED

by Peggy Chong

The Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB of Minnesota was formed at the parents' seminar held on Saturday, May 7, l994, at the historical, beautiful new quarters of BLIND, Inc. The officers of our new division are a diverse and talented group of parents: Barbara Schultz, President, is the biological/adoptive/foster parent of eight children, one of whom is blind and multiply handicapped; Sandy Jacobson, Vice President, has a blind teen-age son; Tom Kiel, Treasurer, has a daughter who is blind; Nadine Jacobson, Secretary, is a long-time blind member of the NFB and the newly adoptive parent of little girl from Korea who is also blind; and Penny Langland, board member, is a physician and the parent of a blind, partially sighted son.

The seminar, which was co-sponsored by BLIND, Inc., State Services for the Blind, and the NFB of Minnesota, drew families from all around the state. Parents participated in the usual general sessions and small group discussions. Speakers included representatives from agencies in the state which provide services to blind children, blind adults who spoke about personal experiences and the skills needed for independence, and parents of blind children-some of whom were now adults. A moving presentation was made by Mrs. Donna LaBarre, mother of Scott LaBarre, a young blind man just beginning his career as an attorney. She spoke of the need for a parents' organization, and how much she and her husband could have benefited from the support and information such an organization can offer.

Barbara Cheadle, President of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, had come early in the week to visit parents and discuss the formation of a parents division. She stayed to conduct the formalities of the organizing meeting and also led several of the seminar discussion groups.

Parents had been encouraged to bring their children to the seminar, too. Special activities had been planned for the blind kids and their siblings by Lori Anderson, a blind mother and educator, and other volunteers. In the morning, the children baked cookies in the BLIND, Inc., kitchen, then served them to all the seminar participants at lunch. Most of the youngsters spent a great deal of time exploring the historical mansion. (The new facility for BLIND, Inc., is the former home-mansion-of Charles S. Pillsbury.) One young boy who wants to be a janitor when he grows up found the boiler room fascinating. Small groups of the children also took turns playing in a nearby neighborhood park in the afternoon.

During lunch, parents and blind members of the Federation exchanged ideas and talked about blindness-related issues. Parents were offered tours of the BLIND, Inc., building, thereby learning more about the training programs available to blind adults and children.

It was an outstanding day. The Federation and the state agency, along with BLIND, Inc., worked side by side and in harmony to promote a positive future for blind children. And now we have a group of parents who have made a great start on building a better future for their blind children with this new division.

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