Future Reflections          Convention Report 2007

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A Promise for Tomorrow, Help for Today

by Elizabeth Frampton, Bonnie Lucas, Kim Cunningham, and Leticia Flores

Editorís Note: A Future Reflections convention report is not complete without some personal comments or reflections by parents (especially first-timers) about their experiences. No commentary is needed about the following remarks--these Moms are articulate and their passion for the NFB is unmistakable--but an explanation about the references to the Parent Leadership Program (PLP) may be in order. Funded by the NFB under the Affiliate Action department, this program was launched at the 2006 NFB convention to identify and provide training to potential and up-and-coming parent leaders in the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. The funding included the cost of attending the 2006 and 2007 NFB National Conventions and expenses to attend the NFB Washington Seminar in January 2007 and 2008. The program consisted of special training sessions in topics such as leadership skills, fundraising, building membership, how to run a meeting, and, of course, lots of philosophy discussions about blindness and the importance of expectations. Two of the following parents, Elizabeth Frampton and Leticia Flores, are members of the 2007 PLP class, and one, Bonnie Lucas, a member of the 2006 class. Here is what they have to say about what the 2007 convention meant to them:

Elizabeth Frampton, President, Rhode Island Parents of Blind and Visually Impaired Children (RIPBVIC):
I feel like Iím an old hat at advocacy. You see, I have been an advocate for over eight years in the state of Rhode Island where we have created some pretty amazing changes in a system that was, and still is, impossibly inflexible. I have learned so much in the years since my sonís birth and have been proud to become an advocate for the blind and visually impaired children in my state. I felt unique and apart most of the time from my friends, associates, and of course professionals within the educational system. They just didnít understand my tireless passion for these children. They didnít see what I was seeing: the unlimited possibilities for all our kids. The Atlanta í07 NOPBC Parent Leadership Program was my first experience being with a huge family of families like mine. I met Moms and Dads who cared just as much as I do. I met leaders who are going to change the way our kids are treated in society and how they are educated. What a relief to know I am not doing this by myself, and how powerful it is to be validated by such wonderful people who understand how difficult it is to exist, day-to-day, while worrying, ďAm I doing the right thing?Ē I left the NFB convention feeling filled up with hope and a promise for a better tomorrow. Iím glad to be a part of this very powerful group. Thank you!

Bonnie Lucas, Parent, Georgia:
The hardest part of going to the NOPBC presentations [at the 2007 NFB convention] was not being able to attend each and every class. I have tried to incorporate the things I learned at these seminars into our family and lives. This year I learned some principles that were particularly useful. When I attended Annie Hartzelís presentation, All About Your Childís IEP, and learned about the kinds of technology and other things parents should expect to receive through the IEP process, I realized I needed to make a request for a different electronic notetaker for my daughter. I had made a request before convention and the response, which came after my return, was a ďweíll have to see,Ē kind of response. Upon my return, I wrote another e-mail. This time, I was very complimentary to the staff while at the same time explaining precisely what Aubrie should have and why. I informed the technology specialist that I was aware of the low incidence disability funds, and that I was sure that sighted children would not have to wait for weeks to get a pencil or pen. To my amazement, I was called before school began and informed that the administrative and VI staff were in agreement with my e-mail. Unfortunately, this piece of equipment hasnít come yet because of some bureaucratic ordering glitches, but the result of my e-mail did indeed achieve the desired outcome. Thank you, Annie, for your presentation.

Kim Cunningham, Parent, Texas:
I would just like to take a moment to thank everyone involved for assisting me and my daughter in attending the 2007 national NFB conference in Atlanta. As a parent, this was a life-changing experience for me. I feel an even stronger sense of hope, coupled with determination for my daughterís future. My daughter, Kayleigh Joiner, made several new friends and met some inspiring adults. Kayleigh has always been an outspoken and driven individual; however, she has never felt a part of any particular group. I believe that she has found a home with the NFB that confirms her belief about her blindness and her desire not to be pitied or thought of as disabled.

Leticia Flores, Secretary, Texas Organization of Parents of Blind Children (ToPBC):
It is hard to believe that as of October 2006, just one year ago, I had never heard of the NFB, much less NOPBC. As an older couple, Dan and I adopted our daughter Kayla when she was seven years old. Not knowing anything about blindness, we were lost; we didnít know what resources were available to us. The first couple of years were challenging just having Kayla attend a mainstream school. We got involved with an organization that was informative, but was somehow lacking in leadership and unity. One day a friend mentioned something about attending a Braille is Beautiful conference and suggested I should go. During the conference I realized everyone who presented and taught was blind. I couldnít believe it! First of all, I had never been to a meeting of any kind with so many blind people, and to see blind people not only participate but conduct a conference without sighted help was the most amazing thing I had ever encountered. I realized right there and then this was an organization I wanted to be a part of.

Well, that was a year ago, and since then the Texas Organization of Parents of Blind Children was formed, of which I am secretary. Being part of NOPBC has truly been a life-changing experience for me. I love the commitment of this organization to help and equip parents to be better advocates for our children.

This summer in Atlanta I attended the NFB convention. It was a remarkable experience, one I will never forget, and the first of many to come. During the convention, I attended the NOPBC Parent Leadership Program; needless to say, I was very impressed. I was so motivated to see parent groups from all over the country come together with the sole purpose of improving the quality of life for our children. Finally, after seeking organizations to help me--as a parentóto better equip and teach my daughter, my search was finally over. Not only did I find the support I was looking for, but also the leadership and unity it takes for an organization to be strong and successful. There is so much to learn and so much I want to do for this organization because I know we have a common interest: to help children live fulfilling, productive, and independent lives. Together we will make a difference!

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