Future Reflections         Summer 2010

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NEWS FROM FLORIDA

by Lenora Marten

Adventures in Blind Optimism, a Saturday program sponsored by the Florida Organization of Parents of Blind Children (FOPBC), started off with a bang! Meant to connect parents of blind children throughout the state, it has done just that and more. In September, we held a much-needed IEP workshop in South Florida. October found our children showing off their cane skills as they navigated through a giant corn maze. The IMAX Theater in St. Augustine welcomed FOPBC in January, showing parents and children what DVS technology is all about. Our children used special DVS headsets to listen to the Alps documentary. For some of them this was their first experience with audio description. In April, we joined the Greater Jacksonville Chapter of the NFB of Florida for a picnic. The picnic was a chance for us to give back to the blind community by feeding over one hundred people.

Immediately following our annual NFBF/FOPBC state convention, our children enjoyed a shark and penguin encounter through SeaWorld Ocean Discovery Adventures in Education. They had the opportunity to touch and learn about penguins, sharks, alligators, lizards, skulls, and even polar bear fur.

During the coming months we will participate in a Christmas in July event with the Daytona Chapter. In August you will find us at the Southeastern Guide Dog Center at an event created especially for our children.

Yes, we've been very, very busy in Florida! But that's not all. We're connecting families with local chapters while at the same time increasing Braille literacy. This program may still be in its beginning stages; however, it has already proven to be crucial. Fifteen students attended the first meeting of the North Florida Braille Club (NFBC), ranging in age from three to seventy-four. The group included five children, six parents, a grandmother, and four other chapter members, all with varying degrees of Braille knowledge.

I have to tell you that the most incredible thing happened at that Braille class. One of our blind teens was proficient in Braille and very sure that this class had nothing to offer him. Yet he turned off his Victor Reader Stream, set it on the table, and started paying attention. Then he walked over to where his blind mother and blind grandmother were sitting and began to assist them with their Braille exercises. I thought, Wow! This is what it's all about!

As we move forward toward 2011, we hope to add Braille clubs to the Central and South Florida Chapters, connecting even more families with blind adults. In the FOPBC we've got the blind and sighted working together. We have men, women, and children coming together to change what it means to be blind.

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