Chaz admits he was only a little above the average college student with respect to his cooking skills. Now he’s made lasagna from scratch and fed fifteen people witt it.
Was last Thursday night/Friday’s snow the last of the 2017 ski season? Well, it definitely was for CCB, as Friday was our last trip to Eldora (21 miles west of Boulder)for the year. It hasn’t proven to be the last of the snow, however, which is great news for the diehards who just have to take one more run before the season closes.
The idea is to have each ITP student go three times and, if there are empty seats for any reason, students can go more than that. For most of Friday’s group, it was their only chance for the year because they’ve only just arrived in the past week or two!
Linssey has been here for a couple of weeks, but she’d never hit the slopes before – she loved snowboarding! Leon had been surfing in Florida, so he took to snowboarding right away.
“I had the time of my life,” he was heard to say on the van ride home.
Cesar hadn’t skied before, either.
“He’s an athlete”, said his guide at the end of the day.
Zach has snowboarded all his life, but this was the first time since becoming blind.
“I didn’t think I’d ever do this again,” he said afterwards. He admitted that he did require a couple Ibuprofen.
There were a couple of veterans in the group as well. Both Chaz and David got their three turns in earlier this winter, but took advantage of openings as they popped up to go five and six times each.
I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to ski again. It had been years and I thought I never would have been able to ski again,” said Chaz, who competed in two running events in the 2016 Brasil Paralympics. Though he hadn’t gone skiing in the tree years or so since becoming blind, he nonetheless spent his time on the most advanced runs.
On his 6th trip of the season last Friday David was exuberant at the end of the day at his improvement.
“I was flying,” he announced in the lodge. “I loved every minute of it,” he later said of the ski season. “You can quote me!”
Thanks to all of the guides who worked with our students and staff this year from Ignite Adaptive Sports! Enjoy your last days on the slopes for 2017!
Below are a few pics provided courtesy of our students Libby and David from earlier in the season. Thanks guys!
No, you won’t be singing any Disney song when you go under the pool.
It’s dirty and dark and forgotten … Except by Travel Instructor David Nietfeld, who today took the Philosophy class on an historical tour of the Center, which was formerly a YMCA. Since part of the student body was off at a boxing gym and another in our gym doing Martial Arts, David had a smaller contingent to take on his tour. He explained where there were once windows overlooking the raquetball courts, whose office once were locker room showers and whose had toilets at one time.
Finally, he took the class around the back stairs and into a locked corridor, then another filled with low-hainging pipes and a ramp and steps and even spider webs to the side of the former indoor pool. It’s covered over now and above is storage, while inside the pool is … well, more storage. To get in, a door was cut into the side of the pool and there’s even a light switch, but it’s not pretty under the pool anymore.
But it is an adventure!
What were we thinking? Well, we encountered wood ducks this week in our Birding by Ear class when we strolled over to the pond at Sterne Park. Sure, there were the standard mallards with their easily recognizable quacking, but that other sound – that rising note – was that really a duck?
yes, it’s a wood duck, and there were several on the pod that day – a whole new bird sound for the group
Before going out, the class examined a number of casts of bird skulls, the discussion focusing on the different kinds of beaks that various birds have, and thus, the different things they feed on- predators with sharp, curved beaks, nut and seed feeders with powerful beaks to crack things open, and small pointed beaks for catching small insects for lunch.
Courtney and Suzie are our March Students of the Month for March, selected by Center staff.
Courtney was forced to take a leave to attend to family business in New Jersy, but was determined to return and earn her Bell of Freedom. She returned after several months and is on her way again, an indication of her determination. She serves as an excellent mentor to newly arrived students and, because her vocational goal is to work with seniors, she also volunteers with our Senior Program every week.
Suzie first came to us in 2013, not long after her adoption from China. She attended four Summer Youth Programs before transitioning last summer into our ITP program. Suzie always volunteers to help out with the FAST Saturday program, working with young blind kids. She also regularly goes to with the netoring contingent to the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind in Colorado Springs, and her Mandarin fluency has been an asset in working with another recently-adopted student from China.
Both received a gift certificate to Romancing the Bean, the coffee shop at Littleton Downtown Station.
Last week was busy with drops and support drops.
The “Drop”, or independent drop is one of the two final requirements of our cane travel instruction. Ryan and Trevor both completed theirs last week, having been dropped somewhere in the Denver Metro area and permitted one question on their trip back to the Center.
The “support drop” is more or less a dress rehearsal for the independent drop. Everything is the same except that the student’s travel instructor goes along. The instructor, by the way, doesn’t know where they are either and also wears sleepshades. Both Julie and Suzie completed support drops last week.
The drop is the culmination of many months of instruction and daily practice of those travel skills, including how to orient, problem-solve, analyze and cross many kinds of intersections and how to find a bus stop. The confidence students gain from completing this requirement is obvious the minute they walk in the front door of the Center, having succeeded, and the announcement goes over the public address system congratulating them!
Over the past six months or so, news that Walmart was closing a number of its Neighborhood Markets in the Denver Metro area resulted in a sigh of relief for us at the Colorado Center for the Blind. Each time, the store near our student apartments at S. Lowell Blvd and W. Bowles Ave. wasn’t on the list. In January, another store closure was announced, this time on Sheridan. Whew! Close call!
Our luck ran out though. Earlier this month we learned that the store where our students do most of their shopping would also fall under the axe, closing April 7.
The first reaction naturally was shock and disbelief. Students won’t be able to walk across the street to get their groceries anymore! That was also the response of citizens in the community, one of whom made several phone calls on our behalf. Some thought we should take it to the press, to the Mayor. We declined.
That’s because that first reaction lasted about five minutes. For some of the old hands, not much longer than a shrug. The thing is, it’s been great for our students to have Walmart’s Neighborhood Market just a few steps away for the past five years, but there were 24 years of CCB history before that when a supermarket wasn’t just across the street, and there will be decades more after April 7. Our students and alums achieve their success on the basis of skills, confidence and the belief that they can live the lives they want, and that doesn’t depend – can’t depend – on the location of one grocery store. That will never change.
“We’re teaching our students to live in the real world,” says Executive Director Julie Deden. “This is the real world.”
A grocery store closing like this can be a blow to a neighborhood, of course. Everyone in the area who relied on the store will have to adjust. There are other options open to us that are available via RTD – choices that were there before Walmart opened. Like all the rest of the Neighborhood Market shoppers, we’ll figure out the alternatives and move on. It will be all right. That’s what we teach, and that’s why our tag line is “Take Chaarge with Confidence and Self-reliance”. This is a real-world lesson in putting that tag line into practice.
When the Colorado Center for the Blind was forced in 2012 by reductions in RTD services at its former location at Mineral and Platte Canyon to find new housing for our students, it was just a happy coincidence that Walmart was building one of its first Neighborhood Markets across the street on the site of an old Albertson’s. But that wasn’t why we chose the apartments now known as the McGeorge Mountain Terrace. It was a bonus, but not a deal-maker. In fact, our students had done fine down south for years without a supermarket across the road. It was the loss of convenient transportation to get to the stores or anywhere else that forced the move. The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado protested vigorously at the loss of RTD service, but this isn’t like that situation. It might make sense to protest to a public entity like RTD for cutting service, it doesn’t make the same kind of sense to protest to keep a grocery store open that isn’t economically viable for the corporation, and especially not when there are reasonable options still available. Certainly, though our students have done the vast majority of their shopping at the Neighborhood Market, other people have to shop there too. We wouldn’t expect the store to remain open at a loss just to serve blind people.
In the past five years Walmart has truly been a neighbor and a partner, donating five shopping carts at their opening for the use of our students, cash for various fund-raisers, and especially providing gracious shopping assistance and service to our students. This week, a couple of the store’s employees stopped by to talk with Center staff about the possible fallout for our students. We appreciate that kind of concern from our neighbors. And we send it right back – we wish all the employees of the Neighborhood Market on W. Bowles Ave. who will be displaced by the closure all the best. Where are they going? Talk about real-world!
Here’s a shout out to this year’s crew from Rice University in Houston who came to work as volunteers on March 16 and 17. They spend an “Alternative Spring Break” volunteering, first at Winter Park with the NSCD adaptive ski program, and then in Littleton.
No, no skiing. At the Center they helped move and assemble furniture for our summer apartments (it’ll be here before we know it), as well as cleaning and organizing in the pool (storage) room.
That’s right, we saved the really fun stuff for Rice!
But they also got a little mini-course under sleepshades that included tech, Braille and travel. And our students cooked a big meal for them on Friday, when going through the serving line and finding a seat was another sleepshade activity for Rice.
For Thursday’s Philosophy class, our student Ashley treated everyone to a mini accessible science fair under sleepshades. Rice is noted for engineering and sciences, and many of the Rice students are majoring in these areas.
Blind people do science too – Ashley has just been accepted to a PhD program in Chemistry Education at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
Thanks again Rice – and we look forward to seeing some of you back in 2018!
We especially want to thank our keynote speaker, Alexandra Hall, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Director of the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics and Chief Economist. She was inspiring, as she said she was instructed to be, but also funny and smart and gave us just enough stats to make us think. Best of all, she’s living proof that finding your career path doesn’t necessarily mean going in a straight line. A little wandering off-road doesn’t rule out success in the long run!
And thanks to all our employers and presenters and DVR staff. You helped make this valuable for everyone.
So, let’s get together and do this again!
But meanwhile, down in the gym …
We had both Martial arts and Archery happening all at once. The wildest imaginations might hve the martial arts students blocking and catching flying arrows, but that’s not at all the scenario. That’s just imagination …
Click any of the images below to see a larger version: