Braille Monitor                                                 June 2012

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The 2012 Youth Track: A More In-Depth Look

by Meleah Jensen

Three girls build a balloon tower using lots of masking tape.From the Editor: Meleah Jensen is a member of the Jernigan Institute education team. Here is her detailed description of youth activities during the upcoming convention:

Each year at our national convention the Jernigan Institute partners with the NFB’s National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) to offer a variety of seminars and social activities that provide a lively convention experience for blind youth ages eleven to eighteen. These activities help foster independence, raise expectations, and promote positive attitudes about blindness.

Grab your friends this summer and come join us. Whether you are a problem solver or an aspiring artist, whether you have discovered something you want the world to know about blindness or just enjoy spending time at convention with people your own age, there’s something for you.

The 2012 Youth Track kicks off on the morning of Saturday, June 30, with a problem-solving activity called Balloon Build or Bust. Students will work together to construct a free-standing balloon structure. The object is to create the tallest structure. While working together to construct their towers, students will have the opportunity to chat with peers and to begin forming new friendships and continue cultivating existing friendships. For this activity students will be divided by age: eleven- to fourteen-year-olds will be in one room, and fourteen- to eighteen-year-olds will be in a separate room. Not sure of your balloon-tying skills? Never blown up a balloon before? No worries, plenty of mentors will be on hand to show you how it’s done. At the conclusion of the morning session before we close for lunch, we will hand out agendas and discuss the rest of the week’s activities.

After lunch we will again be divided into the same age groups for all of the afternoon activities. Students eleven to fourteen will kick off the afternoon with an art activity using the Sensational Blackboard, a recently introduced tool that can be used to create raised-line drawings. Students will illustrate what they wish the world knew about blindness. The fourteen- to eighteen-year-olds will begin the afternoon by learning about the stars of the Federation and our Federation pop culture. The older students will also have the opportunity to check out the Federationbook pages of well-known NFB leaders and create a Federationbook page of their own. Both groups will go on a scavenger hunt, in which they will locate landmarks around the Hilton Anatole. In addition to the scavenger hunt, both groups will have the opportunity to communicate what they want the world to know about blindness, using video. Please note videos taken may be Tweeted, shared on Facebook, etc.; however, no videos will be released until we have secured a signed media release giving us permission to do so.

The excitement continues Sunday afternoon when students will sharpen their creative writing skills in a session with members of the NFB’s Writers’ Division. Following the annual NFB board of directors meeting Monday morning, make your way to our Division Meet and Greet. During this hour-long session, students will hear from representatives from the National Association of Blind Students as well as many of our professional and special interest divisions. Division meetings are a great way to explore potential careers or hobbies. Continue your exploration of new hobbies Monday evening from seven to nine when students can participate in two one-hour sessions in which they will learn some basic self-defense moves from members of the NFB’s Sports and Recreation Division as well as some dance moves from a blind dance instructor.

Activities will conclude Tuesday evening with an off-site dinner at Sal’s Pizza. Students must register for this activity since space is limited. Cost will be $20, which covers the cost of dinner and transportation. All students must turn in a release form to a member of the education team before boarding the bus. We will meet for boarding at 6:00 p.m. at the Jade entrance in Atrium II by the clock tower and will be returning to the same spot at approximately 9:00 p.m.

To get the necessary forms to participate in the off-site dinner, or if you would like more information about any of our other Youth Track activities, contact Meleah Jensen by calling (410) 659-9314, extension 2418, or sending an email to <>.

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