The National Federation of the Blind National Convention is a time for business, for meeting up with people, and learning about companies that are harder to talk with the rest of the year. And these opportunities aren’t just for the adults of the Federation. The convention has activities for children, not just because there are adult Federationists who wouldn’t be able to attend without bringing their children, but because this is a perfect opportunity to teach these future Federation leaders valuable lessons.
They are taught that they can be heard by adults around them, even those with important jobs. Each year the Federation President sits down—literally down on the floor—with children attending the convention. They may exchange a few presidential release-worthy jokes, but they also talk about more serious topics.
Away from the presentations and the seminars, there are important lessons learned during the purely fun activities as well. Among fellow Federationists, who know exactly how capable these kids can be, they get to run around and take part in physical activities that well-meaning sighted adults back home might shelter them from in a misguided attempt to protect them. But here at convention they can strap into a safety harness to jump on a giant trampoline or ricochet around in a bounce house. They get a chance to explore their own boundaries and abilities with people who will say, “Give it a try; just be careful,” rather than, “You can’t do that; you’ll hurt yourself.”