Future Reflections Winter/Spring 2006

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The Equation for Success
2006 Seminar for Parents and Teachers


Sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children

(knowledge - pity) + (skills × confidence) + blind role models = self-determination
self-determination + (talent × perseverance) = SUCCESS

National Federation of the Blind National Convention
Saturday, July 1 - Friday July 7, 2006
Hilton Anatole Hotel (formerly the Wyndom Anatole) • Dallas, Texas

Several years ago, actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck hit it big with a movie called Good Will Hunting. Among the early scenes in the movie is a young man in janitor’s garb (Will, played by Damon), working out a long and complex math equation on a blackboard in a deserted college classroom late at night. It turns out that this rough, uneducated young man from a blue-collar working class neighborhood, is a mathematical genius. However, the discovery of his talent does not lead immediately to success. Like the formulas he worked out late at night, the equation for his success is not a simple “two-plus-two-equals-four” equation. Emotional scars from an abusive childhood, the fear of losing old friends, and habits of carousing, drinking, and fighting are factors that have to be balanced out by the introduction of new factors—new relationships, intellectual challenges, emotional healing, and self-confidence—in order for him to take the first step toward fulfilling his natural potential.

The equation for success for a blind child also has complexities. It is neither as simple as learning Braille, or as simple as being surrounded by positive, loving parents and teachers. Skills and attitudes are crucial factors, no doubt, but there are other elements that must be factored in, and some elements must be subtracted out.

Fortunately, those of us parents who are “math-impaired” don’t have to solve this problem by ourselves. Over 2,500 experts—blind members of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB)—will gather in Dallas, Texas, in July for the express purpose of working out formulas for success for all blind persons. The event is the NFB National Convention, and the problem-solving begins on Saturday, July 1, 2006, with The Equation for Success seminar.

Sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC), this day-long event begins with a kid-friendly general session in the morning, and in the afternoon offers break-out workshops for adults and special fun activities for blind children and sighted siblings. The day will end with an informal, everyone-is-welcome Family Hospitality, and two, no-parents-allowed Teen Talks (one for boys, and one for girls). And that is only the beginning. For the next four days, NOPBC will sponsor over a dozen other special programs for family members and teachers.

This year, the theme is more than a metaphor. We will actually be conducting math workshops for parents, and special math-related activities for children and youth. Rumors have it, for example, that the NFB Jernigan Institute’s National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS) will sponsor a special chemistry program for the teens on July 1. And there are other prominent partners. MATHCOUNTS® <www.mathcounts.org> (which is the math equivalent of the national spelling bee competition) is collaborating with NOPBC to conduct a mock “Kids versus Adults” math competition to be followed by a lively and informative Math Now! forum on Sunday, July 2. The director, Larry Jacobson, and deputy director, Kristen Chandler, are planning to join us in Dallas for these events as a kick-off for promoting participation by blind students in MATHCOUNTS® competitions nationwide.

We are also pleased to announce that the Texas School for the Blind, widely-known for its publications division and extensive Web site resources, will partner with the NOPBC to provide exciting programming in Active Learning, the educational approach pioneered by Dr. Lilli Nielsen for blind kids with severe multiple disabilities. We also look forward to collaborating with the school on other program items, as well as welcoming teachers and students from the school as participants and guests to the convention.

In addition to the new offerings, the always popular, much anticipated standards are on the 2006 program: the Cane Walk, Braille Carnival, IEP workshops, teen drop-in-and-get-acquainted party, teen hospitality room, Braille Book Flea Market, Parent Power workshop, and the NOPBC annual meeting. Maria Garcia, paramedic and president of the New York Parents of Blind Children division, is also hoping to offer some programs in emergency preparedness for children and families. The programs she organized last year in Louisville were a big hit, and we have had many requests to repeat them.

The 2006 speakers will include dynamic favorites that always stimulate, inform, and encourage: Joe Cutter (early years O&M), Ann Cunningham (tactile art education), Heather Field (language development, toys), Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the NFB (kid-talk), Melissa Riccobono (Braille Carnival Buddies), the staff and students from the Louisiana Center and Louisiana Tech O&M Master’s program (Cane Walk), and many others. We will also be welcoming students from the Indiana School for the Blind again this year. The last two years they came as members of the COGS Club, this year they return as Leo Club members.

Among the speakers new to us in 2006, is Eric Vasiliauskas M.D., a pediatrician who has two blind sons. An active NOPBC member from California, Dr. Vasiliauskas has already gained a reputation for his lively and informative presentations. We will also be hearing from another doctor, medical researcher, Alfred J. Lewy M.D., Ph.D., who is conducting studies about melatonin and sleep cycles in children. And we will hear, of course, from the 2006 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award winner.

There is no experience like the NFB National Convention. The NOPBC activities for parents, as exciting and as helpful as we hope you will find them, are only a small part of this phenomenal, one-of-a-kind event. If you will go back and read the “equation” following the title of this article, you will find this element: role models. The convention has 2,500 potential role models for your child and your family. Most will be role models to emulate with pride, others will be reverse models: examples of what not to become. Why? Because the Federation is a membership organization, a cross-section of society; old, young, smart, dumb-as-dirt, cranky, pleasant, naïve, sophisticated, educated, uneducated, skilled, unskilled, clumsy, graceful—blind people really are just like everybody else, and the convention highlights that fact in a way that no amount of rhetoric can convey.

So, make your plans and join us in Dallas! You don’t have to be good in math to learn this equation!

NOPBC Schedule of Events

Day 1: Saturday, July 1
Childcare: The NFB offers childcare (NFB Camp) all day Saturday, July 1, and during other convention sessions throughout the week for infants and children ages six weeks through ten years of age. NFB Camp preregistration packets are available from NFB Camp Director Carla McQuillan, NFB of Oregon, 5005 Main Street, Springfield, Oregon 97478; (541) 726-6924. Preregistration for NFB Camp is required.

Fees: $35 for two adults plus children. $15 for one adult (no children). $25 for one adult plus children. The fee helps cover the cost of workshop materials, the packets and handouts from all NOPBC sessions, AV equipment for our speakers, the cost of our Teen Hospitality Room, and other expenses incurred by the NOPBC at the convention.

8:30 a.m. NFB Camp opens

8:00 - 11:30 a.m. The Equation for Success (general session)

11:30 -1:30 p.m. Lunch (on your own)

1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Workshops (adults)
Activities for children, ages 6 and up

2:45 - 3:45 p.m. Workshops (adults)
Activities for children, ages 6 and up

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. Workshops (adults)
Activities for children, ages 6 and up

5:00 - 5:30 p.m. Break, pick up children from

NFB Camp
5:30 - 6:00 p.m. General wrap-up session, report from kids and youth, poster display
8:00 - 9:30 p.m. Family Hospitality
8:00 - 9:30 p.m. Teen Talks

Day 2: Sunday, July 2
8:00 - 10:30 p.m. Cane Walk: Session I

10:00 - 12:30 p.m. Cane Walk: Session II
The Cane Walk is for blind kids, their family members, and/or teachers. It is conducted in collaboration with Joe Cutter, the Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University, and the Louisiana Center for the Blind.

Morning (time to be announced) MATHCOUNTS® “Kids versus Adults”
This is a closed competition. Competitors must register in advance. Please send an email to Curtis Chong at <curtischong@earthlink.net> if you are interested in competing. Kids must be in middle school and adults must be high school graduates. The competition and the Math, Now! Forum (see below) are both conducted in collaboration with MATHCOUNTS® and the NFB Jernigan Institute.

2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Math Now!
Everyone welcome! Results and prizes for the MATHCOUNTS® competitors; a live oral math round with the top kid and adult winners; information about new technologies, software, and math manipulatives; displays.

2:00 - 5:00 p.m. An Introduction to Active Learning. A seminar and hands-on demonstration about implementing Active Learning for blind children with severe multiple disabilities.

1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Teen get-acquainted, drop-in-anytime, party. Co-sponsored by Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM).
Time to be announced Just for Dads

Day 3: Monday, July 3
12:45 - 4:15 p.m. Teen Hospitality

1:00 - 3:00 p.m. NOPBC Annual Meeting and Program

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Parent Power workshop

5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Braille Book Flea Market and reunion for Braille Readers Are Leaders

Day 4: Tuesday, July 4
7:00 - 9:00 a.m. NOPBC board meeting

Lunch break Teen Hospitality

7:00 - 10:00 p.m. Workshops (IEPs, resources, and other topics)

Day 5, Wednesday, July 5
1:45 - 6:15 p.m. Teen Hospitality

2:00 - 5:00 p.m. Cane Talk. Informal, drop-by anytime, discussions with Joe Cutter and other mobility instructors.

3:00 - 4:30 p.m. CPR for Infants/Toddlers: An introductory course for the whole family

5:00 - 6:30 p.m. Teens Can Do CPR: An introductory course especially for teens

Day 6: Thursday, July 6
Lunch break Teen Hospitality

Banquet NOPBC 50/50 raffle drawing

Day 7: Friday, July 7
General Session

NOPBC announces contributions to the White Cane Fund, tenBroek Fund, Kenneth Jernigan Memorial Fund, and the Imagination Campaign.


2006 NOPBC Preregistration Packet

Send your request by mail, email, fax, or phone to:
NOPBC, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230
bcheadle@nfb.org, fax: (410) 659-5129, phone: (410) 659-9314, extension 2361

Please send the information below when you request a pre-registration packet:

Name: _______________________________________________________________________
Phone number: (H) _________________________ (W) ________________________________
Please send me the packet information by:
___ Mail: _____________________________________________________________________
(address, city, state, zip)
___ Email: ___________________________________________________________________
___ Fax: _____________________________________________________________________
I am (check all that apply): ___ Parent ___ Teacher ___ Blind adult
___ Relative and/or friend of a blind child ___ Other professional

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