General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

Ending the Year with a Holiday Party at CCB

Stephannie, Brett, Myra and Delfina wrapping final gifts

The Colorado Center for the Blind students, staff and seniors were deep into the holiday spirit for the final three weeks before the holiday break. We all wish the happiest of holidays to all in our CCB family!

Even as this was being written, our Martial Arts teacher from ATA Karate Denver, Rachel, delivered a box of cookies and home-baked breads for everyone! She nearly had to remind everyone that those martial arts moves she taught them were for self-defense, not for fighting your way to the front of the line.

Last Friday afternoon we delivered cookies and such to the City of Littleton Police , City Manager, Economic Development and Public Works offices. Another group headed north on Federal Blvd. to the Federico F. Pena Clinic to drop off some more treats. Our students have been using the Pena Clinic this year for all the standard reasons – colds, flu, etc.

Secret Santas served up stealth and sweets for the past three weeks. Every day brought new surprises to someone at the Center – candy, cookies or an ornament. And in the center of the flurry was our own Ironic Elf, Robert Dyson. The culmination was Wednesday, our final day before the break. That’s when we gathered for awesome breakfast burritos from Littleton’s own GraceFull Community Cafe, and the final gifts were distributed from under the tree. This year, Brett and Mayra were the morning’s Santas. Recipients make up to three guesses about the identity of their Secret Santa. By tradition, Julie Deden warns that anyone who fails to guess after three tries forfeits their final gift to her. Of course, that never happens, but this year it seemed like there was a higher percentage of correct guesses.

By the way, we have five graduations since Thanksgiving: Kirk and Brad last week, Faye the week before, and the week before that Annette and Abdi graduated.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Finally, motivated by Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman’s call to help, students and staff collected $308.00 to assist the residents of the Windermere Apartments in Littleton, who have all been displaced because of a November 17 fire. The CCB Student Association gave $150.00 and the rest was collected from individuals. As our students prepared to leave Littleton to return to their own homes elsewhere, the thought of our neighbors being displaced from their homes for the holidays touched a chord. Donations can be made through three groups at this link. Along with the money, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Windermere residents this holiday season!

Students will start back on January 4. Happy Holidays all!

Myra passses Saul his final Secret Santa gift
Duane beams as he opens his final Secret Santa gift - a Denver Broncos blanket


Stephanie P. and Delfina arrange trays of home made cookies, candy, muffins and other treats before breakfast
Jodi reaches for a breakfast burrito


Stephannie B. opening her Secret Santa gift with Brett and Myra
Rudy gets a wide smile when he opens his Secret Santa gift - an Echo Dot


Decorating happened when Robert was out, and this is his chair decorated with bright colored ribbon and gold bells

Senior Programs

Our New Senior Team Has Its First Meeting

There was excitement in the Senior Resource Room this morning as Senior Services Director Duncan Larsen met with a reconstituted Senior Team. Joining her and Anahit LaBarre were Carina Orozco and Chris Parsons, who are filling the two positions left open by the departures of Chris Kinney and Wayne Marshall earlier this fall. Both women are graduates of our Independence Training Program (ITP) and have been teaching at the Center for several years.

Four smiling women stand together in the Senior Resource Room
Our new Senior Team held their first meeting together this morning. Left to right are Carina Orozco, Chris Parsons, Duncan Larsen and Anahit LaBarre. Carina and Chris will move full-time into their new positions in 2019.

“I’m really excited,” Duncan said after the meeting. “With our new team we’re going to work on new initiatives, reaching out to more Spanish-speaking seniors and doing more multi-generational activities.”

Carina has been teaching Braille since April, 2015 and worked in our summer youth program in 2014. She will become the Senior and Student Services Specialist, working with Seniors part of the time as well as doing case management for ITP students. She’s also attending Metro State of Denver part-time, working toward a degree in Social Work. She is a fluent Spanish speaker.

Chris Parsons has been teaching assistive technology in the ITP program since March of 2015. Chris has a degree in English and worked for two years after college as an online writing tutor. She will become the Senior Outreach Specialist, leading support groups and making home visits in an eight-county area.

The positions became vacant when Wayne Marshall left the Center in September after eleven years to move to Georgia to be nearer to his aging mother and other relatives. Chris Kinney worked at the Center for seven years, mostly as Wood Shop & Home Maintenance Instructor before moving to the Senior Outreach position in 2017. He accepted a position with Denver Public Schools in October working with blind youth and is pursuing a master’s degree to become a Teacher of the Visually Impaired.

Carina and Chris Parsons will assume their new positions full-time after the first of the year.

General Colorado Center Information

It’s #ColoradoGivesDay! Please make a donation to CCB!

CCB Wreath with Freedom Bell centered and photos of People from each CCB Program area

These are the faces of just a few who have benefitted from previous Colorado Gives Day donations. They range from ages 5 and up and their circumstances are all a bit different, but all have gained the skills and the confidence to “Take Charge with Self-reliance!”

This year our Confidence Camp for Kids (CC4K) had 11 elementary school kids for this two-week day-camp. They worked on Braille and cane skills all the time, but also learned to make their own lunches, traveled on the light rail and bus, went canoeing and rock climbing and gained a peer group of other blind kids.

In our summer residential youth programs, we had one middle-schooler for three weeks, 24 high school students for eight weeks and had a blast! These older kids either worked on college prep activities or had their first work experiences. And one of them, Kameron, had the fastest time for all ages in the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado’s first annual 6 Dot Dash 5K in June! In fact, he left his running guide in the dust over the final 50 yards.

Throughout the school year, we’ve worked with 50 kids in our Fun Skills and Activities Training (FAST) once a month, and also provided over 930 hours of mentoring time to high school and middle school students at the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind in Colorado Springs.

At the time of this writing nearly 25 Independence Training Students will have received their Freedom Bell, meaning they’ve completed all of the demanding requirements, such as the Monster Route (a one-day trip on public transportation to four places they’ve never been before, each in a different Denver Metro city), and cooking a grad meal for sixty. And we still have a couple more graduations before we break for the holidays.

Our Senior programs hold three weekly support groups in the Center each week, and another 10 groups are held across an eight-county area, though some meet only once a month. In all, counting individual home visits for training, we serve over 330 seniors who are blind or in the process of losing vision.

In all our programs our positive philosophy about blindness is the foundation we build on. Blindness doesn’t mean that expectations should be lowered for you, that your usefulness is ended or that you can’t even expect to have fun. The opposite is the truth – we keep expectations high and know that blind people can live full and useful lives – the lives they want. Success takes a lot of hard work, but it can also be a whole lot of fun!

So, thanks for past support of our students and our mission, and please remember us today on Colorado Gives Day!

Colorado Gives Day Logo
General Colorado Center Information

Our Elf Encourages you to Make a Recurring #COGivesday18 Donation!

Our elf encourages you to give a gift that lasts all year for Colorado Gives Day – set up a recurring monthly donation. It’s less pain for you and more gain for our students in their pursuit of independence and self-reliance! And by setting up a recurring donation on Dec. 4, the whole year’s total is eligible for a percentage of the $1 Million Incentive Fund from First Bank and the Community First Foundation. And thanks!

Colorado Gives Day Logo
General Colorado Center Information Senior Programs

Thankful for the Colorado Center for the Blind!

This year, Susan says she’s thankful for her husband as always, but also for the Colorado Center for the Blind.  She’s been attending Senior support groups at the Center twice a week for only a month.

“My rock” is how she describes her husband and his support for her.  “When I get home, he’s going to ask me about all that happened at the Center today.”

Susan began to lose vision to Macular Degeneration in early 2016, and was declared legally blind last June.  She is right in the middle of learning to live with her vision loss, and knows that process is not all smiles and triumphs.  Along with that, she has been recovering from a series of surgeries for a completely different medical issue. 

“But when I come in the door here, I feel happy,” she says,” no matter how hard a day I’m having.”

A group of a dozen seniors at along with CCB staff work on making sugar scrub

“I’m learning a lot. Robert (Dyson) showed me how to use the white cane when I first came.  And I’m reading words in Braille now,” she says. “But, it’s just the people, the other seniors – they understand about the fears, the anxieties.  It feels like home here.  I don’t have to put on an act.  It’s incredible what (the Senior Program) has done for my spirit.”

For our part, we are thankful to have Susan in our Senior Program, and we’re thankful for the donations that help support our Seniors and other programs.  Please remember us on Colorado Gives Day, Dec. 4.  You can designate your donation to Seniors, Youth or to the Colorado Center for the Blind in general.

Colorado Gives Day Logo
General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

Our students really dig in! #COGives18

Amber using a shovel in the garden for the 1st time with Annette and Barb

Our students really dig in at the Colorado Center for the Blind. We don’t simply teach rote skills, but nurture the confidence and curiosity in our students to continue to problem-solve and learn new skills. That’s how they learn to “Take charge with confidence” so they can live their lives in pursuit of their dreams instead of always following a pre-planned, memorized route. If you only follow memorized routes, you’ll only go to where you’ve already been.

Please support our students and our programs on Colorado Gives Day, Tuesday, Dec. 4!

General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program Senior Programs

Fifth Shared Visions Tactile Art Exhibit May Be Best Yet! #TactileAccess @ArapahoeCC (@artdesignatacc

It may be the best yet! This year’s “Shared Visions” tactile art exhibit at the Colorado Gallery of the Arts at Arrapahoe Community College (ACC) featured even more tactile painting pieces, a series of “boxes” from another class that were in every instance surprising, as well as an installation of an idyllic natural setting,complete with a trickling spring.

It’s the fifth year that we’ve collaborated with Arapahoe Community College’s Art & Design Center, and the fourth year our students had some of their own work on display.

The best news is that it’s open till Monday, December 3! In fact, this Friday our Senior Program will be making a pilgrimage to see it.

General Colorado Center Information

Support Us on Colorado Gives Day Dec. 4 #COGives18

A year-and-a-half ago in Kansas City, Loren was on his family’s front porch after church when he was struck in the face by a bullet. He’d been caught in the crossfire of a shooting that had nothing to do with him, but his life changed forever.  About to graduate from high school, Loren had been talking with a recruiter and was eager to join the marines.  After extensive medical care, managing to finish high school and some initial blindness rehabilitation, Loren arrived at the center in late January for nine months of our intensive, comprehensive training.

Loren in front of the Littleton Downtown Station Mural

When Loren graduated from our program in October, his life had changed once again.    Having traveled all over the Denver Metro area, he has the skills and confidence to travel anywhere he wants to in any city. He can read and write Braille, and loves using the slate and stylus.  In tech class, he had to start from scratch in learning the keyboard by touch, but now is proficient using multiple productivity apps both in Windows and on his Android phone with assistive technology.  Always an athlete, Loren relished the challenges of downhill skiing and rock climbing, and excelled in our 8-week martial arts class.

For his graduation day, he planned and prepared a meal for sixty people. Several family members and friends traveled from Kansas City for his graduation, including the Marine recruiter he had been talking to in high school.  Everyone talked about how proud they are of Loren and how his positive attitude will get him far in life.     

Loren is now back in Kansas City where he has a job working with disadvantaged youth.  From the first, Loren refused to accept that his blindness should hold him back.  Now he knows how to live the full and exciting life he wants as a blind person!    

Every student’s story is compelling, whether an elementary Confidence Camper in June, or a senior newly coping with blindness.  We teach skills, sure, but we also impart a new, positive way to think about ourselves as blind people.  Donations, such as those from Colorado Gives Day, are necessary for the Colorado Center for the Blind to continue providing our innovative programs, characterized by the high expectations we have for blind children, seniors and working-age adults.

The Colorado Center for the Blind is part of Colorado Gives Day on Dec. 4.  That’s the day that the Community First Foundation and First Bank waive all but 2 percent of credit card fees and make each donation eligible for a percentage of the $1 Million Incentive Fund!  That adds up to making your donations on Colorado Gives Day more valuable than on any other day of the year!

What are the programs that most appeal to you, or have affected you or a friend or family member?

  • Confidence Camp for Kids (CC4K)
  • Fun Activities & Skills Training (FAST) for blind youth
  • Seniors in Charge
  • Challenge Recreation – Skiing, Rock Climbing, Rafting

Please support us on Colorado Gives Day, Dec. 4, or schedule your donation now to process on Dec. 4!

Thank you!

Julie Deden
Executive Director

Colorado Gives Day Logo
General Colorado Center Information Youth Services

Scholarship Available for blind High School Students: Attend the NFB Washington Seminar Jan. 27-30

Are you interested in learning about advocacy and legislation?

Would you like to meet Colorado’s U.S. Senators and Representatives?

Wouldn’t it be fun to travel to our nation’s Capital with dynamic blind leaders?

Drawing of the US Capitol with the NFB Logo and Whosits in front of the steps

Take advantage of this great opportunity!  Apply for a scholarship offered by the Colorado Center for the blind youth program.

Event:  Washington Seminar an event of the National Federation of the blind 

Dates:   Sunday January 27 to Wednesday January 30, 2019

Scholarship includes:  airfare to Washington DC, lodging at the Capitol Holiday Inn and a food allowance. Chaperones from the Colorado Center for the Blind will be with each student.  


  • Applicants must be legally blind Colorado high school students and at least 16 years old.
  • Applicants must submit an essay f 350 words.  Write about why you want to attend this event and how it will enrich your life. 
  • Return your essay to Dan Burke at [email protected] no later than December 20, 2018.  Winners will be notified no later than January 2, 2019.     

Events Youth Services

#FAST Programs for Blind Youth: NFB of Denver’s Holiday Party for Youth Dec. 15

Ho! Ho! Ho! Don’t miss our Holiday Party on Saturday, Dec. 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Colorado Center for the Blind!  CCB’s FAST program is teaming up once again with the NFB of Denver Chapter for this event, which will include gift-wrapping for the kids, holiday arts and crafts, and a visit from our blind Santa.  He may have gifts for the kids, too!

We’ll serve lunch and cider and perhaps sing a few rounds of carols before the day is done! So, make sure it’s on your Holiday Calendar!

CCB Tree decorated with hand made ornaments and strings of popcorn and cranberries