Future Reflections Spring 1996, Vol. 15 No. 2

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THE CHILDREN OF THE 1995 CONVENTION

Editor's Note: The paragraphs below are reprinted from the much longer "1995 Convention Roundup" article by Barbara Pierce which appeared in the December 1995 issue of the Braille Monitor. The photographs on the following pages depict children and parents engaged in the broad spectrum of convention activities.

Those who attended the 1995 convention of the National Federation of the Blind are still talking about the unforgettable experiences we shared during the first week of July. The Chicago Hilton and Towers provided an almost perfect setting for a National Federation of the Blind convention: friendly and competent staff, an elegant but uncomplicated facility, and a stimulating host city in the nation's heartland. As each convention closes and fades into memory, one is left with a few indelible memories that forever after spring to mind each time that convention is rememberedþthe skirling of bag pipes on the convention floor, half a hundred blind children and their families taking their rightful place in the Federation clan, the hotel's television channel broadcasting Federation programming all day every day, and a deaf-blind two-year-old showing off for his parents and other adults by running in circles and signing "funny!" These are a few of the pictures that will always color my own memories of the 1995 convention of the National Federation of the Blind.

In many ways this was the convention of the children. Ninety of them registered during the week at NFB Camp, the day camp for kids conducted by Mary Willows and her crew of child care workersþmost of them volunteers. A number of other youngsters remained with their parents or other care givers during convention activities. But wherever the children were, learning was taking place. A deaf-blind teen who had always been told that bouncing on beds was "against the rules" was taught the joyful art by an adult who recognized the importance of such harmless pleasures. Sighted children begged for and sometimes got (for the week at least) their own canes so they could be like everybody else. Parents saw blind adults and even other blind children engaging in independent activity that they had only dreamed of for their own youngsters. And throughout the week blind adults talked with parents, played and worked with their blind children, and redoubled their determination to change what it will mean to be blind for this generation of children.

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