Future Reflections                                                                                       Convention, 2002

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UPS Delivers More Than Parcels!
Braille Readers Are Leaders Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Monday, June 30, 2003 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

by Sandy Halverson

Every year, we say our upcoming national convention is going to be better than our last one. There is always something new to surprise and delight us. This year is no exception. We are pleased to announce that at the 2003 NFB Convention, on Monday, June 30, we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the NFB Braille Readers are Leaders Contest. 

For twenty years the Braille Readers are Leaders Contest, co-sponsored by the  National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB), has strengthened literacy, increased Braille reading speeds, and brought the joy of reading Braille to over a thousand blind children nationwide.

To mark the accomplishments of these twenty years, NOPBC and NAPUB have planned a reception at the Galt House on Monday, June 30, between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. There will be enough free food and beverages to assuage any appetite, a Braille book flea market (more about that later), displays, and a brief, but lively, program from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. Although anyone who attends the 2003 convention is welcome to attend the reception, a very special invitation is extended to contest participants (past and present) and their families.

So, where does UPS fit into this? Over the past several years, UPS has partnered with the NFB to promote Braille literacy and other access to information programs, such as NFB-NEWSLINE®. UPS has also provided many courteous volunteers at our national conventions who know how to give appropriate assistance and directions.

Now, the UPS Foundation has provided the NFB with a Braille Readers Are Leaders expansion grant. These funds will allow us to make the anniversary event the beginning of many annual reunions, and it will also fund some innovative new elements (such as a mentorship program) to the Braille Readers Are Leaders program. However, once we have these programs off the ground, it is our task to fund them and keep them going. And that’s where the Braille book flea market comes in!

The Braille book flea market is your opportunity to share those loved but no longer read Braille books with others, and, for a small donation, to find new treasures as you browse tables of Braille reading matter at the anniversary reception on Monday, June 30. Donations generated by this project will help us fund future Braille Readers Are Leaders reunions and activities. So start gathering those Braille books and if you don’t want to pack them in your luggage, please contact me (Sandy Halverson, see below) for information about where you can ship them in advance.

Finally, the UPS grant makes it possible for us to offer travel and lodging stipends to the anniversary event to a limited number of former Braille Readers Are Leaders contest participants. Priority for consideration for stipends will go to those age 19 and older who are willing to be a Braille mentor to younger Braille readers and their families at the convention.

There is a country song with a phrase that goes something like this, “I was country when country wasn’t cool.” Twenty years ago when the Braille Reader’s Are Leaders Contest was inaugurated, Braille wasn’t cool. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Mark your convention calendars for June 30, and come help us celebrate our past successes, and an even brighter future for Braille literacy.

For more information about the Braille Readers Are Leaders anniversary celebration, the Braille book flea market, the mentorship program, and/or the travel stipends, please contact Sandy Halverson, President, Virginia Association to Promote the Use of Braille at (703) 379-1141 or sandyh2@earthlink.net.

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