(Editor's note: This is reprinted from the Spring, 1985 issue of the NFB of Minnesota's publication, The Blindside)
"You can't play. You have to be able to see to play this game."
All too often, these are the words which discourage blind children from participating in many children's activities.
But, not on March 23. This was a day for blind children in Minnesota to share in games and activities that were designed with them in mind. It was the first "Compete-A-Thon" for blind children ever held in Minnesota and was sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota.
Children earned points by providing the correct answers to questions in nine categories. There were four lucky winners. Here's how they did it.
READ-IT: This activity was designed to test reading comprehension. Children were given several paragraphs to read and were then asked questions about what they had read. Of course, all material was in Braille and in print.
BRAILLE IT: Children were asked to write some words with a slate and stylus (a blind person's pencil) and they were judged according to their accuracy. We discovered that the majority of children had never been taught this skill, making it necessary for us to give them some simple instructions.
FIGURE-IT-OUT: Mathmatical story problems were read to the children and they had to figure out the answer. No calculators were allowed.
FIND-IT "COMPETE-A-THON"washeld ina large hotel and this activity proved to be the most interesting. Children were given a white cane and instructions on how to use it and where a particular place was in the hotel. They were required to use the cane and find various locations. It was the most popular activity of the day.
PUZZLE-IT-OUT: The children had ten minutes in which to put together a puzzle. One of the puzzles was a map of the United States. They received points for every state which was correctly put into place.
HEAR-IT: Children listened to a tape of ten sounds. They received points for identifying each sound.
SNIFF-IT: Different flavorings were placed in front of each child's nose and had to be identified correctly to score points.
TASTE-IT: Popcorn can come in a variety of flavors--even watermelon! Children were asked to identify each flavor by tasting it. This was one activity which children wanted to repeat.
TOUCH-IT: Children were handed various articles and asked to identify them.
When it was appropriate, children with some vision were blindfolded. They found that it was an exciting opportunity to demonstrate their skills. The events were staffed by blind adults, giving the children a chance to have contact with successful blind people. Effective role models provide inspiration for all of us.
The youngest winner received a Twin Vision book that contains Braille and print words. The other winners received games which are also in Braille and print.
The "COMPETE-A-THON" was held inconjunction with a seminar for parents and educators of blind children. At the end of the day, the children joined their parents and some of their teachers to receive their certificates and prizes. Everyone shared the children's pride in their accomplishments.
The theme for the adult seminar was "Blindness; Of Dreams and Reality". Our dream is that the day will come when blind children are expected and encouraged to achieve along with their sighted peers. Parents and educators, in partnership with blind adults, can make our dream a reality.
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