Categories
General Colorado Center Information Youth Services

CCB Seeks Blind Colorado Youth to Go to DC in February

Early each year, more than 500 blind Americans tap their canes across Capitol Hill in the District of Columbia to keep appointments at the offices of every member of Congress. It is the Washington Seminar of the National Federation of the Blind, and it is how we make our legislative concerns and priorities known to those who have been elected to serve us. It is how we, the blind, make our voices heard, and doing so is the foundation of our democracy.

For the 2020 Washington Seminar, The Colorado Center for the Blind will assist up to 3 blind Colorado high school students to travel with the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado to the annual Washington Seminar February 10-13, 2019. The scholarships will include the costs of air travel, lodging at the Holiday Inn Capitol and a food allowance. We typically fly on the Sunday before the Washington Seminar begins, returning late on Wednesday. So, our travel plans will likely run from Sunday, February 9 to Wednesday, February 12, 2020. In that time, students will attend the National Association of Blind Students (NABS) meeting, learn about this year’s legislative priorities, attend meetings at the offices of members of the Colorado Congressional Delegation, and possibly get to visit some important sites in our nation’s Capital.

How to qualify

Blind and low vision students will submit an essay, 350 word minimum, that details how their experiences leading up to this point have shaped their goals and how attending the Washington seminar will help in their transition into college or the workforce.

Applicants are encouraged to read more about the Washington Seminar, and be able to identify who represents them in the United States House of Representatives. Here’s the link to the House Find Your Representative search page.

Essays should be sent to Martin Becerra-Miranda, Director of Youth Services,by December 1, 2019. Electronic copies are preferred, but Braille will also be accepted. Send essays to [email protected] or Braille to Colorado Center for the Blind, 2233W.Shepperd Ave., Littleton, CO 80120, ATTN: Martin Becerra-Miranda.

For more information, call Martin at 303-778-1130, ext. 223.Drawing of the US Capitol with the NFB Logo and Whosits in front of the steps

Categories
General Colorado Center Information In the Media

Catch These Words: Meet Current Student Holly Scott-Gardner & Words Worthy of Catching: @CatchTheseWords

Holly Scott-Gardner Hiking along Clear Creek on her first day at CCB

Holly Scott-Gardner is from the United Kingdom. By many measures, she is a very successful woman, yet she wanted to come to the Colorado Center for the Blind for training. On her first day at the Center, she accepted the challenge to go rock climbing. She attended the National Federation of the Blind Convention with us in Las Vegas last month, and a few weeks ago attended a conference on blindness in Guadalajara, Mexico.

We thought the best introduction to Holly would be to send you to her recent blog post about being at the Center. On her blog site, you can learn much more about her.

Read Holly Scott-Gardner’s blog post, Measuring the Impossible.

Categories
General Colorado Center Information Senior Programs

The Blind History Lady Talks to the Tuesday Seniors

Peggy Chong talks to the Senior Group
Left to Right – Phillis, Peggy, Gary, Sheila

This morning, the Tuesday Seniors group hosted The Blind History Lady, a.k.a. Peggy Chong. Chong, a long-time member of the National Federation of the Blind, recently retired to Aurora from New Mexico with her husband, Curtis.

For a number of years she has researched stories and records of blind Americans, some as far back as the 19th Century, in order to bring their more or less forgotten or never-known lives to light.

Her “blind ancestors” as she considers them to be, become more fully rounded-out citizens, and not just Hollywood stereotypes as she tells their stories in person or in print.

Having researched archives and records about blind people in the many states where she and Curtis have lived (New Mexico, Iowa, Minnesota, Maryland), Peggy is currently searching for blind Coloradans from the past. In fact, she spent the better part of the afternoon looking through old records here at the center, some dating back as far as the 1920s.

Yes, our Colorado blind ancestors!

Categories
General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program Senior Programs

Our thanks to @RepJasonCrow for his visit & tour today!

Rep. Jason Crow visits with CCB Braille Class

We were honored to have freshman Congressman Jason Crow visit the Center this morning. Rep. Crow serves Colorado’s 6th District, which includes the Colorado Center for the Blind. Though he only had an hour, it was plenty of time to learn what we are about, and to meet our students and staff. He even got to say hello to our Tuesday morning Seniors support group!

Thanks for coming meeting and listening Congressman! It meant a lot to everyone!

Rep. Jason Crow visiting with CCB staff and students in the Travel Lobby

Rep. Jason Crow with Brent, Scott Julie and Dan in front of the mural

Categories
General Colorado Center Information Youth Services

Thanks to @RepDianaDeGette for meeting with @nfbco during #NFBinDC, shown here with our 2 high school students!

2019 HS Students at NFBinDC, L-R Ian Lee, Rep Diana DeGette, Deyannira Villa Cazares

It was a busy time In Washington, DC that week of January 28.

Okay, that’s an understatement.

Congresswoman Diana DeGette was called down to the House floor for a vote just as we were getting off the elevator. (We know this because a bell rings in the House office buildings calling members to the floor, and it sounded just as we got off.). She made it back just as our meeting with her Legislative Aide was coming to a close. So she greeted each of us (about 15 people) and we got the photo above with our high school students, Ian Lee (Aurora) and Deyannira Villa Cazares (Denver).

Ian and Deya went with the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado thanks to a scholarship from the Colorado Center for the Blind Youth Services. The funding comes from generous grants for youth from local foundations. We were so impressed with Ian and Deya and their eagerness to engage in discussions advocating for greater access and opportunities for blind Americans, that we are really looking forward to offering the scholarship again next year.

Categories
Events General Colorado Center Information In the Media Youth Services

Here’s news about the 2 high school students who submitted successful essays to attend #NFBinDC with @nfbco:

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

Editor’s Note: In the fall we invited blind Colorado high school students to apply for our first-ever scholarship to attend the National Federation of the Blind‘s annual Washington Seminar. Students were asked to submit an essay telling us why they wanted to go, and we selected two students to come with us. In fact, that’s where some of us are right now, including three staff members and three ITP students along with the high school students. Tomorrow we’ll be on the Hill going to appointments at all nine offices of the Colorado Congressional delegation. Here’s a press release issued today by the National federation of the Blind of Colorado.

Littleton, Colorado (January 28, 2019) -Deyannira Villa Cazares, 16, of Denver, and Ian Lee, 18, of Aurora, join other Coloradans participating in the National Federation of the Blind’s Washington Seminar, January 28-31. Villa Cazares and Lee were chosen in a statewide essay contest.

Two Colorado High School students will travel with more than a dozen blind Coloradans to Washington, DC to advocate for legislation to improve the lives of the blind throughout the country.  The group will join more than 500 blind Americans at the 2019 Washington Seminar Jan. 28-31, held each year by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).

Deyannira Villa Cazares, a 16-year-old sophomore at DSST: Conservatory Green High School, and Ian Lee, an 18-year-old senior at Aurora West College Prep, were the winners of an essay contest sponsored by the Colorado Center for the Blind in cooperation with the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado for blind high school students to attend the annual event. Deyannira of Denver and Ian of Aurora will each receive an all-expenses paid trip to the seminar, where they will meet with Colorado’s congressional delegation and learn from leaders in the National Federation of the Blind.

“One of the biggest reasons visiting Washington would enrich my life is that I want to be able to advocate for people like me, blind or visually impaired, to have the same rights or opportunities as sighted people,” Deyannira wrote in her essay.

“I need to know what laws impact my life and what I can do to help influence changes in the future,” Ian wrote.

According to Julie Deden, Executive Director, Colorado Center for the Blind, “Beyond the legislative issues, these two bright, engaged students will be traveling the halls of our nation’s capital with blind adult role models. Our nation’s capital is big and complicated for anyone. But, they will learn that blind can go anywhere and engage members of congress just like everyone else.”

While in Washington, the students will join others in educating representatives and senators about three legislative priorities:

The Access Technology Affordability Act (ATAA), which would provide a refundable tax credit for qualifying purchases of critically needed access technology. With this bill, Congress would stimulate individual procurement of this technology and promote affordability of these tools.

The Greater Accessibility and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act. The legislation would have Congress set minimum accessibility requirements for advanced digital interfaces which create barriers that prevent blind individuals from independently operating essential devices that enhance quality of life.

The Disability Employment Act (DEA) is intended to spur innovation that will increase and enhance modern employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The Washington Seminar is an annual event of the National Federation of the Blind to introduce Congress to priority issues for blind Americans that require congressional attention over the coming year.

Categories
Challenge Recreation General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program Youth Services

From Motorcycles to the New Parking Lot to the #NFBCO18 Convention: Catching Up with All of Autumn

CCB students and staff gather near a row of motorcycles lined up in front of the McGeorge Mountain Terrace Apartments

There are lots of opportunities for students at the Colorado Center for the Blind. Some are part of the formal program, others staff and students develop out of their own interests and contacts. This fall activities like motorcycle rides and rock climbing were mixed in with graduations and the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado Convention, to name a few.

Pictured above: On September 9 students had a chance to go for a motorcycle ride into the mountains. Members of the Sentinels Motorcycle Club loaded up students and took a tour as far as Indian Hills before returning for lunch at Wrigley’s Chicago Bar & Grill in golden. We thank Dishon Spears for organizing this each year.

In the pictures below, Brian and Jodi furthered their scuba diving adventures on October 7 at the Downtown Denver Aquarium. This is a non-required activity instigated by Brian, a certified scuba diver before he became blind. It was Jodi’s second dive ever. You can read more about it in our previous post on scuba diving

There’s a great picture of Brad from above as he works his way up the rock face west of Golden. All students make two rock climbing trips in the fall, and there are also more in the spring. These are a required and long-standing part of our unique training program. What a thrill, what a feeling of confidence when you make it to the top! We also had our martial arts class, and 6 students received their orange belts this fall.

Construction continues out front. In fact, the parking lot is finished and is lovely, if that could ever be said about a parking lot! Just a few more weeks should do it, as there are a couple of more concrete pours to do and landscaping to finish up. This photo is from an earlier, warmer phase of the construction!

Everyone attended the National federation of the Blind Convention October 25 to 28 in Lone Tree. As part of the program, we had a multigenerational panel talk about the Colorado Center for the Blind – we turned 30 years old this year! Ty Gillespie and his mom Laura are shown below. Ty first came to us at age 5 to take part in Confidence Camp for Kids. He’s 13 now, and nobody’s worried about his confidence anymore!

Finally, we’ve had a number of our students graduate this fall, Loren shown below, but also Danielle, Brian (scuba diving), Tad, Carlene and Nick. Naturally, as these veteran students move on, we bring in new ones, so the faces have changed as quickly as the autumn leaves!

 

Brian and Jodi Scuba Diving at the Denver Aquarium

Looking down at Brad who is nearly 80 feet up the rock face. We see tall trees and the river far below.

Loren M. Ringing his Bell of Freedom at Graduation- Julie clapping

Dust clouds swirl around a front-end loader as dirt and debris are moved for our parking lot construction

Ty and his mom at the podium at NFBCO18

Categories
From The Director Independence Training Program Senior Programs Youth Services

Help Us Celebrate Thirty Years of the Colorado Center for the Blind at #NFB18 in Orlando!

Four people nicely dressed at the podium
Have 10 years really gone by? This photo from our 20th Anniversary Gala in Colorado shows the mood of celebration. From left to right, Executive Director Julie Deden, Founder and Chair of the CCB Board Diane McGeorge, and then NFB President and now President Emeritus Marc Maurer listen to a laughing James Gashel, Secretary of the NFB Board of Directors and CCB Board Treasurer at the podium.

Did you attend the Colorado Center for the Blind, as an adult or in a summer youth program, or were a staff member at one time? We invite former students and staff, as well as prospective students to join us in celebration of 30 years of providing the training and tools that blind people need to live the lives we want!

On Friday, July 6 at the 2018 convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando, we’ll celebrate our 30th Anniversary! We’ll hear from staff and students, past and present. Diane McGeorge will describe what it was like in 1988 when she opened the center, Tom Anderson will reminisce about his adventures, and you will hear from many others about how the center has changed their lives. Following the program, we will hold a reception so we can all catch up with one another.

Want to tell us how training changed your life, of all your accomplishments since graduating from CCB? We’ll give you the chance to tell it on video. Come to our celebration and ask about it. We’ll have a video booth Where you can give us your one-minute message on what CCB has done for your life!

We’ll be on hand at 6:30 and start the program promptly at 7:00 p.m. Check the Convention Agenda when it comes out for the location.

For other questions contact Robert Dyson at 303-778-1130 [email protected].

Can’t wait to see everyone in Orlando!

Julie Deden, Executive Director

Categories
Youth Services

Celebrate Spring with FAST Friday Fun & Games May 11!

CCB Summer students Mary and Cheyene get on the tandem bikes with EyeCycle Volunteers while Christina waits her turnThe entire family is welcome to come and enjoy FAST Friday Fun and Games on May 11 at 5:30 with staff and students at the Colorado Center for the Blind.

This will be an active FAST Friday. We will be getting out and enjoying the beautiful spring weather, playing some kickball, string ball, learning to tandem cycle and doing some guide running to prepare for the NFB of Colorado’s 6 Dot Dash on June 24. We will also be doing some grilling and enjoying some great food.

If you want a burger or a dog, you gotta RSVP here.

Here’s the info on the 6 Dot Dash 5K!

Categories
Independence Training Program Senior Programs

No Snow Day in 1988: Marking CCB’s 30th Anniversary!

Duncan, Tom and Diane hug in front of the CCB sign on a bright spring day.
Duncan, Tom and Diane constituted CCB’s entire staff on the wintry day our doors first opened in 1988. They’re shown here in May, 2015 at Tom’s retirement party. Photo courtesy Gary Buehler.

It’s a big day today. Sure, there’s World Braille Day and Louis Braille’s 209th birthday, and our Independence Training Program students are back from the holiday break and our first Seniors meeting is this afternoon. We’re excited about all that, but here at CCB we’re very excited about something else, too. Today marks 30 years that the doors of CCB first opened. Five students accompanied by cane travel instructor Duncan Larsen and Residential Manager and Braille instructor Tom Anderson made their way from the apartments the Center rented for them to 2232 S. Broadway.

They came in a blizzard. Really, it’s hard to think about because it’s 50 degrees in Colorado today, but there was a blizzard 30 years ago.

As it happened, the apartments were in Littleton, where CCB would relocate in 2000, but when the group made it through the wind and blowing snow, they found that the pedestrian button at Powers and Broadway was frozen. The light didn’t change, so they walked south to Littleton Boulevard and crossed there to catch the northbound Route 0 bus.

Meanwhile, founder Diane McGeorge was at 2232 S. Broadway with coffee and donuts, wondering where they could be. Maybe worrying just a little.

But that wasn’t the end of it. After arriving at the Center and warming up with coffee and donuts, eventually the entire group went grocery shopping. For several of those first students, it was the first time they’d done their own shopping, so it was also an adventure of discovery.

I think the students thought we’d have a snow day,” said Duncan this morning of that first snowy day. “our expectations were high on that first day, and they’ve remained high.”

Throughout this year, we will celebrate 30 years of “Taking Charge with Confidence and Self-reliance” with a number of events and activities, so stay tuned!

Where Are They Now?

Diane McGeorge, the force behind creating the Colorado Center for the Blind and it’s first Director (until 1999) says she’s retired. Actually, she volunteers at CCB with our Seniors program as many as three days a week. She is also the Chair of our Board of Directors.

Tom Anderson says he’s retired also. Well, he did retire from CCB in 2015 after teaching Braille and other things – lots of intangible things – for more than 27 years. He returned with his wife Linda to Kansas where Tom is a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas Board of Directors, serves on the Kansas Independent Living Council, and organized Kansas’ first Braille Enrichment for Literacy & Learning (BELL) Academy for blind elementary kids in 2017. Way to relax Tom!

Duncan Larsen is now Director of Senior Services at the Center – a program we could only dream of in 1988… That is, we might have dreamed of it if there had been time.