Braille Monitor                                               November 2013

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The Poetry of Motion, the Grace of Movement, the Delight of Physical Expression with Blindness No Barrier

by Natalie Shaheen, Jerry Whittle, Maurice Peret, Lou Ann Blake,
Matt Simpson, Lisamaria Martinez, and Greg DeWall

From the Editor: As blind people we are encouraged to use our minds and to exercise them. This is all to the good, except one reason for the emphasis on mental activity is the widely held belief that we cannot enjoy and participate in physical activity. When we who are blind buy into this misconception, the result is that we spend far too much time engaged in mental activity and far too little time engaged in physical pursuits.

To discuss how blind people can lead more physically active lives, a panel appeared near the end of the afternoon on the first day of the 2013 convention. It was comprised of Natalie Shaheen, director of education at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute; Jerry Whittle, first vice president, National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana and the former Braille instructor at the Louisiana Center for the Blind; Maurice Paret, lead cane travel instructor, Blind Industries and Services of Maryland; Lou Ann Blake, project manager of the Help America Vote Act project and coordinator of the annual tenBroek Law Symposium at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute; Matt Simpson, membership and outreach coordinator, United States Association of Blind Athletes; Lisamaria Martinez, president, Sports and Recreation Division, National Federation of the Blind; and Greg DeWall, rehabilitation, orientation, and mobility instructor, Society for the Blind, Sacramento, California. Here is what the panel, moderated by Natalie Shaheen, had to say:

Natalie Shaheen at 2013 national conventionNatalie Shaheen: “Sitting is killing us.” That is what Nilofer Merchant tells the audience in her TED Talk, “Got a Meeting? Take a Walk.” A body of research supports her statement. For example, did you know that we sit an average of 9.3 hours a day? This is almost two more hours a day than we sleep. The harmful effects of sitting include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and breast and colon cancer. We sit so much, and so does everyone around us, that we do not even realize that it is a problem. In that way, Nilofer says, sitting is the smoking of our generation. Our society in general is happy to have blind people sit. “Just sit here and wait,” we are too often told. But we do not need to sit, and we do not need to wait. We can move as well as anyone else, and I think we should start right now.

I would like to invite you all to participate actively in this panel. To encourage you all to get moving, we’re going to play a game you might recall from your college days. I do not know that this game has a name, but here’s how it works: every time you hear a specified word, you perform an action. Instead of taking a sip of your Kool Aid, in this iteration of the game we’re going to move. Does this game ring a bell? For the next forty-five minutes, every time you hear the word “blind” (or a variation of that word), feel free to stand up, reach your hands as far over your head as possible, stretching up onto your toes, and then sit back down. I do note that Dr. Maurer just stood up. And any time you hear the word “move” (or another form of the verb) stand up, turn around three hundred and sixty degrees, and then sit back down. Feel free to modify these movements as necessary so that they work for you. If you are concerned that you are going to look a bit silly playing this game, remember that sitting is killing you, embrace your inner five year old, and embrace the silliness. Now don’t forget to move when you hear the words “blind” and “move.”

I was always an active child, though you wouldn’t have guessed that from my physique; I guess not much has changed. I learned to swim when I was only two; a few years later I joined the swim team and continued to swim competitively for most of my childhood. In addition to swimming, I tried my hand at ballet, tap dancing, soccer, tennis, water polo, volley ball, goalball, and lacrosse. Though I enjoyed all of these activities, I did not excel at any of them. This was frustrating because it was clear that I had some athletic talent; I just could not find the right sport. The struggle in finding my athletic niche was twofold: first, my particular athletic talent is one that our society does not usually find as desirable in a female. Popular sports for girls focus on endurance, grace, speed, and flexibility. Few popular women’s sports focus on sheer strength, my particular talent. The second piece of my struggle, which I did not uncover until I came to know the Federation, was that I did not know how to play any of the aforementioned sports as a blind person. I now know that blind people can and do excel at all of the sports I tried out as a child, but I did not know that as a budding athlete. Consequently, I did not think to develop nonvisual techniques for playing those sports, and as a result I never reached my potential.

It was not until high school that I found my sport. I was in the weight room with the other girls on the lacrosse team when one of the track coaches, who was also in the weight room, noticed I was significantly stronger than the other girls on the lacrosse team. He convinced me that I was playing the wrong sport and recruited me to join the track team as a thrower for the following season. I had finally found my home as an athlete: throwing heavy things. I finished out my high school career on the track team. In college I continued to compete as a shot put and hammer thrower on the track team at Ohio University. Since college I have continued my athletic pursuits as a competitive Olympic-style weight lifter, when I’m not on the injured reserve, anyway. As it turns out, the sports I am best suited to as an athlete, those that focus on strength and explosive movement, require no accommodations in order for a blind person to compete. The toe board, a raised metal platform at the front of the throwing circle, clearly indicates the direction the shot put is to be thrown. In weight lifting, the signal that indicates that your lift is complete and you may set the weight down is both visual and auditory. The alternative techniques needed for these sports show up more in training than in competition.

A sighted lifter analyzes his lift by watching film or looking in the mirror. I know that my pull is good because the bar rattles in a certain way. Similarly, the slap of my wood-soled lifting shoes on the wood platform helps me to critique other aspects of my lift.

I am excited to be joined today by six other active blind people who are going to share their passion for recreation and movement, highlighting the alternative techniques they have developed or borrowed so that they may participate fully in their preferred activity. Here to share with us how to play the all-American sport of football is Mr. Jerry Whittle, first vice president of the NFB of Louisiana.

Jerry Whittle at 2013 national conventionJerry Whittle: Are you ready for some football? Friday night party! I want to thank Dr. Maurer first of all, because he really believed in what we were trying to do and made a donation from the NFB to allow us to buy some football uniforms we didn’t have. We initially started trying to play football without pads, just flag football, using a cowbell and a beeping football. Lisamaria Martinez, who’s on this panel, got a black eye, and we had a student named Louise Walch who got a knot on her head, and a student named Heath Topping (a rather intriguing name)—he had lips like Mick Jagger when we got through. So we decided we’d better wait on the uniforms. We started raising some funds, some people in the local area donated money to us, and the local chapter donated money. We went out and bought thirteen uniforms: helmets, shoulder pads, and jerseys. I’m wearing an actual game-used jersey that says “NFB Football” on it. The only problem with it, somebody knocked the “f” off of this “football”---it’s got “ootball” on there; the “f” is gone. It’s got a number four on the back, it’s royal blue with white lettering, and our helmets are royal blue.

The game has evolved quite a bit from what we first started out doing. We have a fifty-yard field. The field is fifty yards long, it is fifteen yards wide with a ten-yard-deep end zone. We run toward the sound of a radio--we put the radio at the back of the end zone. Each team (the white team and the blue team, we’ll call them) gets ten tries to get a touchdown. If they get stopped, then the other team takes over, and they get ten tries to get a touchdown. If they score, they have a choice between going from five yards out for one point or ten yards out for two points. So five yards out you get one point, ten yards out you get two points: and that’s usually what the game comes down to, who makes those extra points and who doesn’t. We allow only the quarterback to run with the ball. He or she has a cowbell around the neck [holds up bell]. It’s the actual one they use. It’s got “NFB Cane Challenge,” which used to be on the old NFB canes. We put them all together, kind of made a necklace. I’m wearing an NFB necklace here. This is what the quarterback wears, and he or she also wears jingle bells and uses a beeping football. Now Mr. McGirr, who used to work for the Jernigan Institute, made us a real nice football, and it’s still working, still going strong. So we use that every time. Sometimes we don’t use the beeper because the teams prefer to hear just the cowbell and the jingle bells. So the quarterback is going down the field jingling and jangling as he or she goes along, drawing a lot of attention, believe you me!

Are any NFB football players here today? [cheers] Oh, wow, they’re still here to tell the story. It’s a lot of fun. I didn’t want to play something as simple as beeping badminton or talking tiddlywinks. People want to have something that is really physical and everything. One of the greatest joys I had as a child was playing sandlot football, playing flag football, and then playing some organized football with pads and everything. The game is much safer with a helmet and pads--nobody gets hurt too bad, you get some bruises and dings. I think the worst anybody ever got hurt was when he was running out of bounds and ran into a hurricane fence; he didn’t stop, but kept running. One time I was standing on the sidelines, and a guy ran over me and cut me a flip backwards. And the lady next to me lost her eyeglasses, couldn’t find them for a while. So it’s kind of dangerous on the sidelines sometimes, but most of the guys get behind the hurricane fence when we play. But we have a lot of fun, and I guess the greatest pleasure that I get is from being there and watching them play. I don’t play anymore. One of the young guys asked, “Why don’t you play, Mr. Whittle?”

I said, “I’m sixty-six years old.” I thought that was a pretty good excuse, but they didn’t buy it. The greatest pleasure I get from it all is just seeing everybody after the game talking about it. The old war stories, the sound of the pads clanging together, the helmets cracking together, and a real solid hit. Old Sean Whalen out there, he laid the wood on somebody, and it was one of the nicest sounds I’ve heard in a long time. He got a charge out of it too. It’s a lot of fun; nobody’s really been hurt so far. Now I want to say, we had a guy playing last time—we played right before the convention—he was 6’4”, and he ran over Jessica Scannell, who is from New Jersey. She’s about 4’ 12” or something. She was lying on the field, and I just knew this was our first casualty. I said, “Are you okay?” Everybody was saying “Can you wiggle your toes, can you wiggle your fingers?”

She jumped up and said, “I’m going to kill him.” Let me just say this: whenever the teams line up, the offense has to say who they are or where they’re set. In other words they come out blocker, blocker, blocker, and then the quarterback says “quarterback,” and they have to stay in their position. The referee says, “Is the offense set?” And the captain says, “offense set.” Then the defense can move around anywhere they want to; they don’t have to say anything. They can set up anywhere they want, and then the defensive captain says “defense set.” Then the referee hands the quarterback the football, and all they have to say is “go.” And, when they go, you better move it, move it, move it. Everybody’s coming after your blind behind. So there’s a lot of movement involved in the game, and a lot of blind guys have a wonderful time playing the game. Thank you.

Natalie Shaheen: The lead cane travel instructor at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, Maurice Peret, teaches by example, traveling anywhere and everywhere, cane in hand. From the foothills of Mount Everest to the Appalachian Trail, Maurice has hiked it all, and he’s here to tell us how.

Maurice Peret at 2013 national conventionMaurice Peret: Thank you, Natalie. You know I was never good at competitive sports, and I’m sure not going to compete with Jerry Whittle over here, so I’m taking a hike. Warm embrace to my Federation family and everyone who’s with us this week. Where are my colleagues from Blind Industries and Services of Maryland? [cheers] Oh, good, they are here! We’re a dynamic, exciting, innovative company, and we provide structured-discovery, blindness cutting-edge training, that’s what we do, and I’m so proud to be part of that. The Federation touches hearts, souls, and lives across this country. But we also find ourselves in some interesting places on this planet. Twelve years ago the symbol and spirit of the National Federation of the Blind found its way to the top of the world on Mount Everest. There it was, the flag of the NFB, and I was there to observe and document what was happening during that expedition, which required me to hike some thirty-five miles and ten thousand feet in altitude without crying or dying in the process. When I came back, lots of people asked me, “Would you do it again?” I didn’t have to think about it—no way!

But, as the passage of time, fading memory, and the physical effects of high altitude waned, I came to know the beautiful and talented Ms. Lou Ann Blake, and suddenly I rediscovered how much I loved hiking, isn’t that something? So we spent a part of our honeymoon on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. It was awesome. So we thought—Lou Ann and I—much of our lives is shared with our Federation family: our love, our passion, the things that we do. We want to spread it out, so we tried to think up ways—how can we get people out here? We’re not going to suffer alone, after all. We tried to think up ways to get our Federation family out there. So we devised a plan. We came to know a very special person and a champion, Tom Johnson from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, whom Sharon Maneki knew and worked with. He believed in our purpose, and our cause, in what we wanted to do. He said, “How many blind people you think we can get out there for this first attempt at this hike? Three or four, half a dozen?” I said I thought we could get twenty or thirty. Well, on May 11 in 2011, we got fifty Federationists out there on the Appalachian Trail hiking and about eight rather overwhelmed members of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club—what are we going to do with these blind guys?

We’ve done hikes since then. We got young scientists from Project Innovation out there on the trail hiking during that program, and we’ve been doing it ever since. We did a hike a couple months ago involving some twenty blind people, and we’re going to do some more before it’s all over.

Here’s my challenge for our Federation: you know the Appalachian Trail on the East Coast goes from Georgia to Maine, it’s only about eleven hundred miles or so. I think there’s a similar trail out on the West Coast, the Pacific Crest Trail. The Federation has been to Everest. We have been to some exciting and remote places on this planet. Why can’t the National Federation of the Blind hike the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails? Why can’t we do it? Now Lou Ann has the idea that maybe we’ll do the one-hundred-mile trail in Virginia. I’m not sure we’re up to doing the whole entire Appalachian Trail, but we’re not going to try to do it alone. What if all our Federation affiliates got together as a fundraiser? What if we went to National Geographic and said that the Federation is going to hike from Georgia to Maine and the Pacific Crest Trail? Let’s do it. Let’s raise money. Thank you, Natalie. That’s my challenge.

Natalie Shaheen: Exotic locations and expensive equipment are not required for all forms of recreation. Lou Ann Blake, HAVA project manager and law symposium coordinator at the NFB Jernigan Institute, is going to tell us about yoga, a sport you can do from the comfort of your home.

Lou Ann Blake at 2013 national conventionLou Ann Blake: Good afternoon, Federation family. Are you ready for some yoga? I’ve been doing yoga for about seven years, and I’ve also done aerobics, weight machines, treadmills, Nordic Track, and I did competitive horse showing for a couple of years. But I have found that yoga is the best way to strengthen your body, increase your flexibility, and quiet your mind. Best of all, it’s something that everybody in my Federation family can do. You don’t need a lot of equipment to do yoga, as Natalie mentioned. All you need is a mat and some loose-fitting clothing. I would suggest that all of you try some beginner-level classes at first. Beginner level classes are very accessible for blind students; the teacher will audibly describe each pose as the class moves through its practice. And, if you can’t do all the poses to the fullest extension, that’s fine, because there are always alternatives and variations for each pose that will enable any blind student, no matter what your fitness level or physical ability, to be able to do all the poses in the practice. Once you get used to the poses and you know what you’re doing, just get some DVDs and do it at home, save yourself a little money rather than spending it on a class.

Another great thing about yoga is that you can do it anywhere. Maurice and I have done yoga on the beach in Key West, Florida (great place to do yoga). You can also do yoga while you’re standing in line. So, when you’re standing in line at one of the restaurants here waiting for dinner or waiting in registration, do your yoga. There’s also office chair yoga, so, while you’re sitting at work, you can do yoga. There is, believe it or not, in-flight yoga, so, when you’re going home from convention, you can do it. And, believe it or not, there is also bed-top yoga. Now can anyone think of a place to do yoga that I haven’t mentioned yet? [enthusiastic cheering suggesting she had covered most of the bases] Yeah, how about NFB convention yoga? Let’s make the NFB convention the largest indoor yoga class in Florida!

Those of you who can stand, who have room, do feel free to stand. Those of you who prefer sitting can still join us. Try not to bump your neighbor, but we’re going to start off with the basic standing pose, which is mountain pose. Stand with your feet together, or if you need them to be a little bit apart for stability, that’s fine—that’s just a variation. With your hands down at your sides, fingers relaxed, looking straight ahead with your chin parallel to the floor, that’s where we start every standing pose from. Now we all probably carry a lot of stress in our shoulders and our necks. We’re going to work on our shoulders first, so let’s squeeze your shoulders up towards your ears and then drop them down. Squeeze your shoulders up to your ears, and then drop them down. And one more time we’ll squeeze our shoulders up to our ears, and then drop them down. When you’re standing in mountain pose, you want to make sure that you’ve got your shoulders down and back. You don’t want your shoulders up towards your ears or slumping forward. You’ve got to be standing straight.

Next thing: our neck. Our neck is another place where we carry a lot of stress. We want to tilt our head forward, putting your chin on your chest. And then just slowly rotate your chin towards your right shoulder and then back down to your chest. Then up toward your left shoulder, and then just down to your chest, and very gentle. Then up to your right shoulder, down back to your chest. Up to your left shoulder, down to your chest. Back up to your right shoulder, down to your chest, and back up to your left shoulder, then down to your chest. All right, does that feel good? [cheers]

Okay, another thing we can do: we actually were already doing it. We raise our hands up above our heads, stretching as far as we can. Then we’re going to alternate our right hand stretching up further, then lower, and our left hand stretch up further. And then our right hand up far, as far as we can reach, reaching those fingers up. Then our left hand, reaching as far as we can, stretching, stretching. Our right hand back up, stretching. Then our left hand back up and stretching as far as we can. All right, thank you, and back to mountain pose.

Now traditionally a yoga class will end with everybody’s hands in prayer position at our chest, and thank you, my Federation family, for participating in this brief yoga practice and for letting me be your teacher. I hope that you will continue to explore yoga and enjoy its many benefits. Namaste.

Natalie Shaheen: Next up is a sport I’ve been privileged to coach but never lucky enough to play competitively. Matt Simpson, membership and outreach coordinator for the United States Association of Blind Athletes [USABA], is going to share his experiences playing one of my favorite sports: goalball.

Matt Simpson at 2013 national conventionMatt Simpson: Good afternoon. I enjoyed that little bit of yoga practice. Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll be able to do a goalball practice in here today. We’re not going to be able to make that happen, but I did happen to notice that, when Natalie was introducing the sports, goalball got the loudest cheer—thank you guys for that—so I know I’m already preaching to the goalball choir over here, I know everybody loves the game. For those of you who don’t know what goalball is, I want to give a really brief explanation. It’s a sport involving six players. Everyone is blindfolded all the time; there’s no visual advantage. You have a ball with bells inside of it that weighs approximately three pounds. You play on a court that is tactilely marked with lines, and you have goals for orientation. The point of the game is to throw the ball as hard as you can down the court and past the opponent into their goal. The goal is thirty feet wide, and the court is sixty feet long, and you’re volleying the ball back and forth. Goalball is not specifically a contact sport like football—or NFB football—but, if you’ve ever blocked a goalball going forty-five miles per hour, you know that it is in fact a contact sport.

Besides being the membership and outreach coordinator for the United States Association of Blind Athletes, which is the governing body for goalball in the United States, I’m also a member of the men’s national goalball team. I’ve had the opportunity to play goalball all over the world and all over the United States, which has been an incredible experience. I’d like to tell you a little bit about why goalball is awesome. If you are a member of the NFB, you know the skills that are invaluable: spatial awareness, orientation and mobility, auditory skills of location and tracking, echolocation. Goalball was created in the 1940s as a means of rehabilitating blinded war veterans, to teach all of those skills. And, if you’ve ever been on a goalball court, you know just how valuable those skills can be to you: orientation on the court, communication with your teammates. Unfortunately those are skills that we all too often miss out on with team sports. But goalball is a sport that was created for us and that we can play at any time on any level. If you were at the goalball demonstration on Tuesday, thirty guys and girls showed up to play goalball, and we played on a carpeted floor in a room over there in the convention center. So, no matter what you’re doing or where you are, you can enjoy goalball. I know those guys are probably still recovering from their rug burns. I know I certainly am. I was foolishly convinced to play with those guys. We have our Pan American competition next week, so I’m worried I’ll have to show up and tell my coach I can’t play Brazil because the skin on my wrist hasn’t grown back yet.

Goalball is played all over the United States on teams of three to six people. If you have never had the opportunity to play, I strongly encourage you to bug three of your sighted or blind friends and get out. Find somewhere to play, pick up a ball, and do your best to make it happen. Playing with your peers is hugely beneficial. Like I said, the skills that you can learn on a goalball court can be learned there better than almost anywhere else that there is. If you have questions about where you can find a team in your area, we have dozens of teams all over the United States that compete in USABA competitions. I’d love to talk to you about the game, how you can start a team, where you can play, how you can play, so please shoot me an email. Our website is <>; you can find me there, or you can find me around here for the next two days. So thank you all so much for allowing me to talk to you guys, and go play goalball.

Natalie Shaheen: The martial arts have been a popular form of recreation for decades. Lisamaria Martinez, president of the Sports and Recreation Division, is an accomplished athlete in several sports. Today she is going to share her various athletic pursuits, including her successful career in judo.
Lisamaria Martinez at 2013 national conventionLisamaria Martinez: From 1977 to 1981 my father served this country as a scout sniper in the US military. He was a Marine. He was a tough dude. Being a tough dude, would you be surprised to learn that this dude wanted to raise tough, independent, and fearless children? I was born to two incredible people; some of you have met them, Cookie and Greg, my parents--you can attest that they are pretty cool people. Three years after my birth my sister was born, and two years later my twenty-seven-year-old parents had to face a pretty tough challenge: how to raise their eldest daughter, how to ensure that she would grow up tough, independent, and fearless, even though she had just become blind. So, what did they do? They made me make my bed. That is to say, my parents decided that the best thing they could do for me was to treat me the way they would treat my sighted sister and later down the road my sighted brother. I grew older and was a pretty happy child, despite having to go through the tortures of making my bed and doing the dishes and all other chores my parents could dream up. To make a long story short, as my brother and sister and I got older, my dad wanted us to learn, not only how to be tough, independent, and fearless, but how to be safe and to be able to handle ourselves in any type of situation. So we were all enrolled in judo.

You might be sitting in your seats wondering how a blind person can do judo, and I’m here today to tell you how. If judo sounds interesting to you, listen up, here I go, listen carefully. All you need to do is find a dojo, walk in, put on a gi, and go. It’s that easy. Judo is one of those sports that blind people can do with very little adaptation. When it was time to learn a new pin, a new choke, a new armbar, I simply volunteered to be the sensei’s partner so that I could know what was being taught. And, if that wasn’t feasible, I would ask a higher-ranking classmate what to do. The only other accommodation I needed to implement was during a sparring match, and more specifically how I would start a match with another competitor. Instead of bowing and starting from afar and grappling for a grip, I would bow and start with my hands on the lapels of my opponent—that equaled the playing field.

There’s not much else I can tell you about adapting judo. You don’t need sight to flip, pin, choke, armbar, and generally kick—well, be tough, independent, and fearless. So if you are ready to step it up, to challenge yourself, and judo sounds like the right fit for you, I invite you to don a gi and get started. I’m Lisamaria Martinez, and I’m the president of the Sports and Recreation Division. I’m from California, and I’m tough, independent, and fearless, and I am blind, with no barriers. Thank you.

Natalie Shaheen: To round out our impressive panel of active blind people is another accomplished and well-rounded athlete. Greg DeWall, our rehabilitation, orientation, and mobility instructor at the Society for the Blind in Sacramento enjoys ballroom dancing and is passionate about recreation for everyone.

Greg DeWall at national conventionGreg DeWall: How are you, folks? I was hoping in five minutes to have you all prepared for Dancing with the Stars. Are you ready? As Natalie said, I’m heavily involved in recreation. I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so I spent my youth and many of my college days scaling rocks and bridges, cliff jumping into water. I wrestled my way through college, I even got heavily involved in wakeboarding and waterskiing. And then I found judo, and my adrenaline kept going. Judo took me around the world and all across the country, even with Lisamaria, and I walked out of Beijing with the bronze medal. Then I met my wife, Stacy Cervenka, and became civilized. Now I’m doing ballroom dancing.

Since this is a crowded environment, instead of getting up and having everybody do the tango and having everybody waltz and cha cha, we’re going to have a little sing-along, just to find the rhythm. The hardest thing about ballroom dancing—for me anyway, I’m white, come on, give me a break—is finding the rhythm. So if you can find the rhythm, regardless if you have two left feet and two right shoes, you’re going to be able to dance. You’ve heard “Bingo” right? Let’s turn that into “Tango.” T-A-N-G-O, T-A-N-G-O, T-A-N-G-O. There you go--you’ve got it--that’s the five-count for the tango. It’s not that difficult. Now let’s go to the waltz. Okay, it’s a little three-count rhythm [counts off rhythm]. All right, and you add a little box step to that, you start bebopping a little bit, you’ve got the waltz down. My wife and I did a very lovely waltz for the first dance at our wedding. I really enjoyed it.

Then we can go into the swing. Everybody likes the East Coast swing. Big band: you’ve got the horns, you’ve got all the brass playing, you’ve got the Dick Tracy type. Give me a one, two, rockstep; one, two, rockstep; one, two, rockstep; one, two, rockstep; one, two, rockstep; one, two, rockstep; one, two, rockstep—very good. That’s all you’ve got to do--be able to find that rhythm. And I strongly encourage all of you to either find a friend who may be involved in ballroom dancing or just look up your local ballroom club. It’s not that hard, you go in, like many other people up here have said, like Lisamaria said. You talk to your instructor, let your instructor know that “Hey, it’s okay if you need to put my hand here, or put my foot there.” Let them know that you just might need a little extra description. It’s nothing we haven’t done before; it’s just a different setting. And I promise you, if you’ve got the skills to get yourself to the ballroom, you’ve got the skills to dance. So keep moving, keep playing, find a ballroom, find a dojo, find a goalball club, find a hiking trail, find a yoga club. It doesn’t matter, just keep moving and stay active.

Natalie Shaheen: Are there activities, resources, or programs the Federation could facilitate to empower blind people to be active in all stages of life? How can we ensure that young blind children get connected to active blind adults so that they know that they too can be active? I hope you’ll be in touch with your ideas. I hope you will take the techniques that these active blind folks have shared with you today and find a way to get moving. If you’re looking for a way to stay active here at convention while maintaining your commitments to the work at hand, instead of having your next meeting at the coffee shop, consider taking Nilofer’s suggestion and have a walking meeting. Thank you.

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