Future Reflections  Convention Report 2006

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My First Convention

 

Steve Walker and his daughter Anna get a cane travel lesson from Kristen Simms at the Cane Walk.Steve Walker (Pennsylvania): I had a terrific time at my first NFB Convention in Dallas. It was amazing hearing the stories of others that have dealt with the same issues my daughter is going through. She and I both enjoyed learning more about cane travel. In fact, the most memorable part of my trip was listening to so many canes tapping on the lobby floor, all at the same time. It was like a gentle rain shower. I called it “the sound of sight.” It is something I will always remember.


Lindsay Shapiro, daughter of Marlene Shapiro, works on a craft project at the Art with Feeling session.Marlene Shapiro (Massachusetts): We are so fortunate that we were able to attend our first NFB National Convention. Being included as part of this history-making organization was an overwhelming and moving experience. The people at the conference were as varied as at any other event, but the tie that bound everyone together was that they all seemed happy to be there. There was a camaraderie that could be felt within the hotel walls.

We were able to meet and speak with influential people within the field of blindness and the blind themselves. There was an abundance of people and literature to answer any questions. The knowledge we gained helped us feel good about the difficult choices that we have made for our daughter.

 

Andi Borum (Virginia): My first national convention was overwhelming. It was held in the largest hotel I’ve ever been in and with three thousand blind individuals from all walks of life. As part of the parent leadership program, I learned that parents have a right to read and hear a positive perspective regarding blindness. With training and exposure to successful blind mentors, we can ensure that our children grow up with confidence and self esteem. This well-organized convention was a wonderful place to get information and explore the many options and opportunities our children should receive in their lives. Parents are their children’s best advocates.

 

Terri Turgeon and her daughter Kristin enjoy the Sensory Safari.Terri Turgeon (Massachusetts): Our experiences at the NFB are ones that my entire family will never forget. It was a wonderfully rewarding experience for our whole family. It allowed my husband and me to talk about and connect on issues that typically only I deal with. My son, who is sighted, was in awe of being with so many blind people and around so many canes. It was good for him to be there, too. Kristin had the good fortune to meet Deborah Kent Stein [a children’s author who happens to be blind]. As a result, Kristin starting writing a story with her BrailleNote, and has decided she would like to grow up to be a teacher or an author like Ms. Stein.
As funny as it may seem, our daughter, Kristin, made the statement while we were at the convention in Texas, that she didn’t know that there were this many blind people. After some prodding, she said she thought there were only twenty-five to thirty blind people in the world. That may seem silly to everyone else, but to me, it’s very telling and very powerful.

I am surprised to admit this, but I was continuously struck with the sense that our daughter was going to be okay in this journey she’s on. As a family, I felt as though no matter what, I had somewhere to turn if I needed help. That is a very powerful thing: to know that you, your family, and your child are not alone, that you can turn to others more experienced if you have questions or need support.


Barbara and David Hammel pose with their four-year-old twins, Jessie and Paul, at the Cane WalkBarbara Hammel (Iowa): We have joined the NFB to give our children, whom we adopted from China when they were three, a fighting chance at becoming productive blind citizens with a positive attitude about their blindness.

After attending the parents of blind children meeting [at the convention], I realized how far we have to go in educating the social workers of America. I was astounded to learn that one out of every two blind parents have been reported to social services. I was one of those [blind parents] to be reported because one of my sons fell on a toy.

David Hammel (Iowa): My favorite part of the convention was the Safari Club display. I’ve gone to the zoo many times and tried to describe the animals, but it is so much better being able to let someone feel a stuffed animal for himself or herself. I also enjoyed the clicking of the canes in the atrium--it sounded like it was raining. But it did take a little time to get used to the canes knocking on the [hotel room] door as people walked past. My favorite line from the convention was from the speaker who said she would not feel sympathy for all the “poor, light-dependant people.”



Ten year old Dasha Radford, daughter of Lusi Radford, enjoys the activities at NFB Camp.Dasha Radford (North Carolina): I really enjoyed going to the book fair [the Braille book flea market]. It was challenging and fun to wander around and find books. It was neat to meet all the people. I enjoyed sitting in the general sessions because it was fun to hear the different presentations.


Ahbee, daughter of Joy Orton, listens carefully to instructions from her mentor at the Braille Carnival.Joy Orton (Texas): I loved attending the NFB convention. Our daughter got to meet many successful blind people; we think it is very important for her to know blind people in a variety of job fields. We even got to meet Dr. Nemeth, creator of the Nemeth code for math. How cool is that!

As parents, we connected with teachers and parents of blind kids, and we were able to use some of what we learned at the convention to improve our daughter’s IEP and include technology goals for this year.

That’s what some of the families who attended their first NFB convention in 2006 had to say about the experience. But what about the families that keep coming back year after year? Keep reading! The following piece features photos and comments from parents about….Why We Come Back.

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