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General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

What Color Is Tuesday? Haylee’s Speech

This is Haylee’s speech for our short-term public speaking class, given last fall before she graduated. Not only did we learn about synesthesia from Haylee, we also learned during the question-and-answer segment (not shown) from Tabea how she and her sister Sarah argued as children over things like what color Tuesday was. They both had very different ideas. Here’s the speech though:

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General Colorado Center Information

Joey’s Hollywood Ending

Joey grins as he rings his Bell of Freedom
If this is Joey’s Hollywood ending, the real story is just beginning.

Joey wanted to return to the Center for a full training program ever since he came to a summer program as a teenager in 2005. Finally, his Dad put the question in his mind – was he ready to take care of himself if something happened to his parents? That’s when Joey went into action. It took work to do it, Julie told us, but ultimately Joey returned to the Center last summer. He graduated on April; 13.

“Joey is a man who follows through on everything,” Julie remarked before awarding his Bell of Freedom. “Your teachers are so impressed at how you get your assignments done without procrastinating.”

Joey bounces over quadangle steps on NSCD's obstacle course
Joey took on all new challenges!

More than that, he took on new challenges with enthusiasm, and on weekends traveled far and wide independently. For his Monster Route, he went from corner to corner of the Denver Metro area.

Fittingly, his travel instructor Steve grabbed the floor after Joey received his bell. Recalling how he’d met the kid Joey in 2005 when Steve was himself a young summer counselor, he praised Joey for the growth and progress he has made at the Center.

“You’re a man now,” Steve said.

Joey with four hotel pans of pasta
Chicken Alfredo for 60 requires a lot of pasta!

Joey’s guests included his Aunt Carolyn, Uncle Walt and cousin Debbie, who drove down from Cheyenne to enjoy his chicken Alfredo, Caesar salad and Italian sodas.

Kind and big-hearted as Julie pointed out, Joey reached out in many ways to his fellow students, all of whom had something to share at the “love session”. Well-known as a big movie buff Joey also often had other students over regularly for movie nights at his apartment.

“I never get tired of talking about what the Bell means, do I Joey,” Julie said. “It means freedom for each blind person, and you worked so hard to earn yours – congratulations!”

Like many Hollywood endings, Joey’s is a happy one, but just the beginning of the real story. There is so much more to come!

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Independence Training Program

Shelby: The Choir Director Gets Her Bell

a smiling Shelby rings her Bell of Freedom
Shelby’s graduation on April 8 brought her parents and, grandparents all the way from South Carolina, as well as a family friend who lives in Scotland.

Shelby came to the Center as a brand-new high school grad last summer, and so it was the second time her parents and grandparents had been to the Center – they also came for the summer youth graduation at the end of July.

“When we have students come to us right out of high school and stay for a full training program, we see so much growth in them. That’s certainly true of you, Shelby,” Julie told her as she prepared to present the bell of Freedom. “For your guests, this bell represents a great deal of hard work – hard work that is rewarded with new and greater independence as a blind person. And you have worked so hard and grown somuch in order to earn this bell!””

It’s almost impossible to think about Shelby without thinking of music, too. Her love of music led to the creation of a small, but impressive student choir. Shelby was the director, and they performed during the holidays for our Senior Christmas party and at the NFB of Denver chapter party. In fact, they gave a lovely harmonized rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” after the bell ceremony.

Shelby crawls cat-like across the inverted wall
Shelby on the inverted wall of the NSCD obstacle course uses a four-point stance to advance.

But Shelby also thrived in challenge rec, getting the nickname “Chipmunk” for her skittering successes on all the most difficult rock climbing walls at Clear Creek Canyon and El Dorado Canyon, not to mention the any number of other activities.of the

Shelby prepared a tasty chili with garlic bread for the entire Center and her guests.

“Its’ about gaining confidence in youself as a blind person,” Julie explained. “Bet you never thought you’d accomplish something like this – cooking for 60 people.”

And with that, the Choir Director took her final bow as a CCB student. Shelby will be attending college as a freshman in the fall in South Carolina!

dShelby puts hinges on her wooden box
Shelby thrived in creative areas, such as art and here finishing her woodshop project.
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Independence Training Program

Vika: If I can cook for 64, I can cook for my family someday

Vika ringing her bellOn April 6 it was Vika’s turn to ring her Bell of Freedom. She cooked a meal of barbecued chicken, potato wedges that used 30 pounds of spuds, and peach cobbler.

Vika slicing potatoesWhen Julie asked if if she’d ever done any cooking before coming to the Center, she said no.

“My parents were afraid I would hurt myself, and they didn’t know how to teach me. That’s why I wanted to come here and be around other blind people who know how to do things and can teach other blind people.”

“And I’ve met so many wonderful people and had such wonderful teachers.”

The final guest count for her grad meal was 64.

I” know if I can cook for 64,” mused Vika, “I will be able to cook for my family and friends.”

Vika reaching out to the paws of a Bear reaching back to her at the Visitor's Center Bear Creek Lake ParkVika came to the Center as part of our 8-week summer program in 2015 – she was a fresh new high school graduate from South Carolina! After the summer program, she knew she needed – and wanted – more skills, more confidence and more independence.

“I know that in South Carolina or anywhere else in the country I couldn’t possibly get all that Ive gotten here,” she told her guests. “Everyone should give a round of applause to Julie and all the teachers. Keep doing what you’ve been doing!”

Close-up of Vika's Blue hairIt seems that Vika learned more than just travel and cooking and tech. She learned to shop. Maureen reminded us that Vika didn’t have any interest in things like doing her hair or nails, or finding nice clothes. But as Vika herself said in her Monster Route video, she now loves to shop – not to mention regular changes in hair color!

Vika showing her nails“You’ve made so much progress – you’ve done a tremendous job and you’ve worked so hard,” Julie praised.

Vika returned to South Carolina and plans to attend community college in the fall.

“Remember, we are your family forever,” said Julie, “and we’ll always be here for you. Were so proud of you!”

Vika using a hand saw in the woodshop

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Independence Training Program

Peter: This is your journey to make

two instructors awrd the bell to the student
You’re leaving one thing, but starting a whole new life …

Peter culminated his amazing journey on April 1 with his grad meal and the Bell of Freedom he worked so hard to earn.

“It was suggested that I come here 20 years ago,” Peter toldus. “I didn’t because I didn’t believe I was blind.”

Peter with the horse he carved out of alabasterIndeed, Peter came from Brooklyn as one of our more mature students, but clearly young enough (and wise enough) to work hard and learn. In the mix he brought his mentorship to his fellow students and re-discovered his passion for making art in Ann Cunningham’s class

Peter forms a bowl on the potters wheel with both hands cupped around the clay and both thumbs forming the center“I’m so happy and proud … This has been an amazing journey for me,” he told everyone. “For all of you, this is your journey to make.”

Peter asked his two travel instructors, David and Mo, to present his bell since Julie was out of town. Mo taught Peter in his earlier months until she was needed to fill in as a Braille teacher.

“With me,” Mo commented, “you went from crawling to walking.”

Teasing aside, all agreed that Peter worked very hard and was willing to take on every challenge in travel or tech or home management.

Peter’s meal for 60 featured an elaborate Cobb salad. His sister-in-law niece and her husband, who live in the Denver area, were his special guests.

“You’re leaving one thing,” Peter remarked of receiving his bell, “but you’re starting a whole new life (of independence).”

profile of Peter climbing up a rock face

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Independence Training Program

Marcus’s Speed Bag Project

Marcus has made plenty of things in wood shop, before and after coming to the Center. So when it came time to do a final project, he chose something for the Center. By the way, it’s used almost every day.

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Independence Training Program

Tabea: I didn’t know I would grow in the ways that I have

 

a young woman grins as she holds her bell of freedomTabea’s time in the spotlight came on March 12 when her travel instructor David Nietfeld presented her with her Bell of Freedom.

“When Tabea first got here her sister Sarah was finishing up,” David said. “For a while it was kind of the Meyer Show. Some might have been tempted to wonder how Tabea would do once her sister left, but we know for sure now the kind of person she is.”

“She is a go-getter, she pushes herself. She is definitely someone who gets things done.  I am proud of her, and many others are too.”

David teased that “she’s a bit of an over-achiever”, going to six new locations on her Monster Route, not just the required four.

In turn, Tabea thanked her instructors for guiding, pushing and encouraging her. To David, who arranged a complicated drop for her, “I feel like you (did that) because you believe in me, and I appreciate that.”

Tabea had been hearing about the training at the Center from her sister, and from her brother who had also attended an NFB center.

Tabea showing two cucumbers she just picked from the garden“I was very excited when I got here, she said, “but I didn’t know I would be able to grow the way that I have.”

About serving 65 people a meal of korma, naan and chai tea? “I watched people doing their grad meals and thought that if that’s what I have to look forward to, I don’t know if I can do it.” But she admitted that she didn’t feel any great anxiety as she went through her preparations for the final achievement.

“I want to thank Maureen for that. Thank you for your teaching for supporting me and helping me to stretch.”

Tabea’s mom drove from Indiana to attend the graduation. Also present were her very special family from Indiana and friends from church in Denver.

Tabea’s immediate plans took her back to Indiana to visit family. In the very near future she will go on to graduate school with her new skills and belief in herself.

Tabea stands at the end of a long row of food ready to searve at her grad meal

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General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

Warren’s First Month at CCB

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Independence Training Program

Poetry in Philosophy Class

Josie Mills
Josie Mills

Thanks to Josie Mills, chair of the Arapahoe Community College’s English Department. She came to philosophy class today to discuss John Milton’s poem, “On His Blindness.” Though almost everyone was new to this poem, there were a lot of very thoughtful responses.

Maybe the best part of class for many, judging by the hush in the room when she finished reading it, came when Josie shared one of her favorite poems, which appears below:

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

— Theodore Roethke

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Independence Training Program

Vicki: New House for Her Dog Bella

All ITP students take wood shop and home maintenance at the Center, and building a project is a graduation requirement. Vicki will tell you about hers: