by Juli Hunter, President
Parents of Blind Children Division National Federation of the Blind of Colorado
[PICTURE] Federation conventions are great places for parents of blind children to meet competent blind role models. In this picture (taken at the 1988 NFB convention) Lori Le Blanc, Jerry Whittle, and Russell Anderson prepare to take a group of blind and sighted children to the zoo.
Editor's Note: There is an old English saying that goes like this: 'The fox has many tricks but the hedgehog (porcupine) just one....one good one." Although there are many reasons why parents should join the National Federation of the Blind, just one good reason will do.
You've all heard the old adage, "the blind leading the blind." It is used to describe the attempts of one person to show another person how to do something when neither one has the slightest idea what is going on. Well, the newly formed Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado is determined to give that old adage new meaning. Allow me to explain.
Most of us do our best to give our kids every opportunity- to become independent. But no matter how conscientious we are about providing those opportunities, the children often have the sense that they are being supervised and protected by a sighted person. As parents, we questioned how to bridge this psychological barrier to self-confidence. A group of us decided that the answer lies in blind role models. We needed help from blind adults who could show our children the ropes--for instance, how they take the bus to the shopping mall and find the items they need to buy, or how they manage cooking and cleaning in their apartments and homes -without a mom or dad there to help!
With the help of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, we have been given the chance to make our "big brother/big sister" role model program a reality. The Colorado Center for the Blind, established by the NFB of Colorado to teach adaptive skills to adult blind persons, has been able to provide us students and staff members who have volunteered their time to meet with our school-age blind children. The children have been meeting monthly with their "big brothers" and "big sisters" doing such things as baking cookies, travelling in the neighborhood on a scavenger hunt, and creating centerpieces for a Valentine's Day party. In the meantime, the parents have had the chance to share their concerns about independence and travel issues.
The program has been so successful that in January, the parents decided to formally organize as the Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. So far, we have had the enthusiastic participation of about eight families. The children in the program range in age from about seven to 14 years old. We are hoping to increase our numbers and welcome all school-age blind children and their families. We will be meeting on the third Saturday of each month from 1:304:00 p.m. at the National Federation of the Blind. 2232 South Broadway, Denver, CO. Anyone requiring further information may contact Juli Hunter at (303) 377-9021 or Diane McGeor^e. (303)778-1130.
And what about that old adage, "the blind leading the blind"? It appears that we have succeeded in giving that new meaning. It now means being shown the way as secure and competent friends. I hope that your child will join ours in meeting and learning from these new friends.