by Carol Castellano

Carol Castellano and her husband Bill are leaders in the

National Federation of the Blind's organization for parents of

blind children. They live in New Jersey with their children

Serena and John. Serena is blind and John is sighted. For both

of these children, the future is filled with exhilarating

possibilities. With sparkle, pride, and belief Carol shares

some of them with us. Here is what she has to say:

It took my daughter Serena a long time to decide just

what she wanted to be when she grew up. Whereas my son was

only four when he decided that he would be a dinosaur

scientist, it wasn't until she was seven that Serena realized

that her destiny in life was to be a folksinger. Happily she

played the chords to her favorite song, "Michael Row the Boat

Ashore," on my guitar.

Then came the Presidential campaign of 1992. Serena was

eight. She sat rapt before the television listening intently

to the speeches of both parties. After the summer's two

national conventions, she realized that it wasn't a folksinger

that she wanted to be after all--it was a folksinging Senator.

By late fall, having heard all three Presidential debates,

Serena was going to be President.

Her barrage of questions about how she could learn to be

President and conversations about what politicians do kept up

for so long that my husband and I were convinced she really

might go into politics when she was older.

In the late spring of this year, Serena went out with her

father to pick early snow peas from the garden. Coming inside

with her basket of peas, she told me she was very interested

in gardening. "That's wonderful," I replied. "You'll be a big

help to Daddy."

Overnight Serena's interest must really have taken root,

because the next day she asked me if I thought the gardens at

the White House were too big for the President to tend, since

the President is such a busy person. "Yes," I replied. "I'm

sure there's a staff of people who take care of the White

House gardens." "Well then, I won't be a gardening President,"

she told me. "I'll just be a gardener."

The desire to be a gardener was still but a tender shoot

when Serena took a piano lesson--just a few weeks after

picking those peas--and realized it was a pianist she wanted

to be!

Serena is at such a wonderful stage of life! Interested

in everything, trying everything out, she sees the world as

her plum, ripe for the picking. She believes in herself, as we

believe in her. And since what people believe largely

determines what they do, it is critically important for

parents of blind children (and other adults in the child's

life) to have positive beliefs about blindness and what blind

people can do.

If we are told (in a journal article or by a teacher of

the blind, say) that blind children usually do not or cannot

learn how to do a certain task, and if we come to believe

this, chances are we will not give our child the experience or

opportunity anyone would need in order to do this task. And

chances are the child won't learn to do it.

Imagine, though, if we--and our blind children--were

never told that blind people couldn't accomplish a certain

thing. Imagine what the results might be if everyone believed

that blind people could do anything they wanted to! Well, I

believe this--and attending NFB National Conventions has

solidified this belief for me. It is this belief which guides

the way I bring up my daughter.

My husband and I know personally or have heard speak a

blind high school teacher, college professor, mathematician,

scientist, car body mechanic, industrial arts teacher, Foreign

Service officer, engineer, a high-performance engine builder,

and a man who has sailed solo in races from San Francisco to

Hawaii. This makes it possible for us to glory in the

exhilarating feeling of watching a child look toward the

future and see only possibilities.