The 1989 annual meeting of the Parents Division of the NFB was without a doubt, the best ever. After the meeting, one parent came up to me and said that when she first saw the agenda she had been appalled. She didn't know what we were going to be doing for four hours (we were scheduled to meet from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 5), nor how she was going to get through it. "But, you know," she said, "that was the fastest four-hour meeting I've ever sat through. It was a great meeting!"
And it was a great meeting. The fact that we needed to schedule a four-hour business meeting says something, of course, about how much the Parents Division has grown--both in size and in scope of activities--since we first organized in 1983. The biggest growth has come about in the activities of our state parents divisions and regional chapters.
Representatives from parent divisions in Arizona, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina were called on to give reports at the meeting. We also heard from our two regional chapters, the Northwest Chapter (Oregon and Washington) and the Midwest Chapter (Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois). Several states do not have NFB parents divisions or chapters, but that didn't mean that there wasn't anything going on in those states! Federationists from several states-including Nebraska, South Dakota, and Maine-- talked about what the NFB had done in their state for parents and blind children in the past year.
Our Michigan division sponsored a very successful integrated summer day camp for blind children in 1988 and reported that they will have camps at two locations this summer. Also, the NFB of Michigan is supporting a Braille bill which would provide for Braille instruction for legally blind children. Members of the parents division will be doing their part to buttonhole state legislators and let them know how important this bill is. Although Delores Scearce, the dynamic and capable president of the Michigan POBC, could not be with us at the annual meeting (she had just started a new job in a new city), Michigan was well represented by Steve Handschu.
A picnic, a trip to the farm, advocacy for parents, and keeping up the pressure on the state department of education to find ways to provide decent Braille instruction to more blind children, were highlights of the year for the Maryland Parents Division.
New Mexico sponsored a very successful daily living skills summer program for blind children in the Albuquerque area. Ohio has been working with students at the Ohio School for the Blind (several students contributed jokes to President Maurer for use on the presidential release cassette tapes). The representative from the POBC/NFB of South Carolina described the two-week summer camp for blind children which is conducted and sponsored by the NFB of South Carolina.The NFB of South Carolina has also been successful in Braille legislation efforts.
Betty Shandrow, president of the POBC of Arizona, has been an example to everyone in how to get out and get publicity for our POBC events. She lined up television and newspaper coverage for several POBC and Federation events in Arizona in the past year. She also serves on a variety of special state committees and advisory boards--including the advisory board for the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind.
Our Northwest Chapter is as active and innovative as ever. The chapter sponsored a special leadership seminar for parents this past winter and is planning an overnight camp-out for POBC families and blind Federationists this summer. What a great way for kids and parents to really get to know blind adults!
Most of our NFB/POBC affiliates, including California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Louisiana, and the Midwest Chapter (Iowa, Illinois, Missouri), sponsored one or more parent seminars in the 1988-89 year. The POBC of California put together an attractive photograph display with the theme "Blind Kids Do It All!" for the POBC of California annual meeting/seminar. The POBC/CA also brought the display to convention and everyone had a chance to see it at the annual parents seminar exhibit table.
Although the parents of our newest affiliate, the POBC of Colorado, had little experience in the Federation, they pitched in and worked hard as a part of the host affiliate--the NFB of Colorado -- to make our meetings and convention successful.
Barbara Walker, president of the NFB of Nebraska, gave a report on the parents seminar which the Nebraska affiliate had sponsored this past year. Over fifty parents, teachers, and blind youth attended, and everyone declared the seminar a huge success. Mrs. Walker also proudly introduced, and claimed for Nebraska, Kim Bosshart. Mrs. Bosshart, a teacher of blind children in Fremont, Nebraska, is the recipient of the National Federation of the Blind 1989 Distinguished Educator of the Year Award.
Mrs. Bosshart, as the award recipient, was our guest speaker. Everyone present was inspired and encouraged by her description of her philosophy of teaching blind children and how she goes about doing her job. She is truly an outstanding teacher of blind children, and we hope other teachers will use her as a model. (The remarks she made at the convention banquet are printed elsewhere in this issue).
Nadine Jacobson, Coordinator and Judge of the NFB's "Braille Readers are Leaders" Annual Contest, then gave her report about the 1988-89 contest (see article on page 26 of this issue.) One of the winners, first-grader James Konechne of South Dakota, was present with his proud parents, Mike and Estelle Konechne. James came forward and read (in Braille, of course) a delightful poem called "Hands."
Other reports were also given, and elections were held. Delores Scearce of Michigan and Betty Shandrow of Arizona were re-elected to the board. Committees were established, and chairpersons appointed by president Barbara Cheadle. These are: Membership/Chapter Development, Denise Mackenstadt, Washington state; Publicity, Betty Shandrow, Arizona; Local POBC Projects, Delores Scearce, Michigan; Education, Charlotte Verduin (Illinois) and Ruby Ryles (Washington state); Legislation, Ruth Swenson, Arizona; The Blind, Multiply Handicapped, Colleen Roth, Ohio. Coordinators were appointed for the following: NFB Parent Seminars, Mary Willows, California; Annual IEP Workshop, Doris Willoughby, Iowa; Annual POBC Seminar and Meeting Registration, Debbie Hamm (Oregon) and Beverly Helmboldt (Michigan); Annual Children's Seminar, Lori LeBlanc, Minnesota; Adoption and Blindness Network, Florence Blume, New Jersey; "Braille Readers Are Leaders" Annual Contest, Nadine and Steve Jacobson, Minnesota; "Slate-Mates" (the Braille Pen-Pal Program), Fred Schroeder, New Mexico.
The excitement, new ideas, and inspiration generated by our Annual NFB Parents of Blind Children Meeting is sure to be evident throughout 1990. Everyone left feeling invigorated and ready for the challenges to come. If you were not there, we urge you to make plans for the 1990 NFB National Convention and Annual POBC Meeting in Dallas, Texas. By working together, parents and blind adults really CAN make a difference for blind children. Come and join us in Dallas in 1990. Every parent or teacher of a blind child has something to contribute, and something to learn, from the National Federation of the Blind Parents of Blind Children Division.