Future Reflections          Special Issue: Sports, Fitness, and Blindness

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Fun, Fitness, and Family

by Barbara Mathews
President, California Parents of Blind Children, a Division of the NFB/CA

Kyra (left, age 3) and sister Kiko (age 5) play in a stream. It’s the beginning of a love affair with water sports for both of them.Sports and outdoor recreation have always been a big part of our lives. My husband Rob and I met skiing! We weren�t about to let Kyra�s blindness get in the way of our family�s activities or her fun.

S’mores for breakfast? Only when camping. (Kyra, age 4)We sought out several blind athletes as mentors and role models. And we did our own creative thinking. When Kyra was very young, we took her hiking and camping. Then we progressed to more challenging sports, like skiing and rock climbing. She participated in the team sports of softball and soccer. As she got older, she made more of her own choices and gravitated to music. She plays flute and piano, and sings in a choir. And of course, she loves hanging out with friends and going to Disneyland.

She had a lot of fun participating in the Braille Institute�s Olympics, and she went to summer camp with a Braille Institute supported program. But for the most part, she has participated with sighted peers and family. Rob and I taught her to ski, and now one of us guides her when we ski. She took swimming lessons along with her sister Kiko. We got a tandem bike and started riding.

Kyra (top, age 4) rock climbs at Joshua Tree with Mom and Dad.Soccer is a great way to learn teamwork. (Kyra, far right, age 5)My advice to parents: Don�t wait around for that �special� program for blind kids. In most places, they don�t exist. Our experience has been that programs for special needs kids generally have not been suitable. Get out and have fun!





Mom helps Kyra (age 6) get into batting position for a T-ball game.





Running in the Braille Institute Olympics. (Kyra, age 7)






Stopping for a water break on a backpacking trip. (Kyra, age 9)







Dad teaches Kyra (age 10) to kayak.











Kyra (age 11) and Dad enjoy a ride on the tandem mountain bike.

Kyra (age 13) and friends at the California Adventure Park hustle to get to the next ride.







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