That’s right, Summer 2017 students are all arriving today by planes, … well automobiles at least. Their counselors have been here for nearly two weeks, getting classrooms and apartments ready, creating lesson plans and getting in touch with the students – even finding out what them might like for dinner tonight! It’s the start of eight dynamic weeksof challenge and growth because, as we always say, this isn’t a camp, it’s a PROGRAM!
Last summer, after eight weeks, after the final meal cooked by the summer students for family and the etire Center, after the talent show and passing out of certificates, and as the packing and apartment cleaning started, Summer 2016 students and staff took a few moments to reflect on what the summer meant to them.
We’re just back from our 2016 National Federation of the Blind of Colorado Convention in Lone Tree from October 27 to 30. All staff and students attended and, since we’re an NFB training center (the NFB of Colorado started the Center in 1988), Executive Director Julie Deden always makes a report the the entire convention about all that’s happened in the last year. It’s always a highlight of an affiliate convention that is full of highlights. This year Julie’s report included this video of 2016 highlights and retrospective of our graduates this year. But you’ll have to wait till the end for the really, really cool part …
The culmination of the Summer Program each year is of course the awarding of certificates and the talent show. Before that can happen, however, the masses must be fed. The summer students and their instructors draw on their collective learning in the kitchen over the summer and cook a meal for as many as 120 guests. All ITP staff and students, summer staff and students, parents and summer employers are invited. If you didn’t get to test the meal for yourself, you can get an idea how it turned out watching the video:
Not only did we say good-bye to our 24 summer students in the past week, we also saw the departure of two friends and colleagues who’ve been with us for much of July.
We’ve been excited to host Kimie Beverly as a student for the past three weeks. Kimie is President of the National Federation of the Blind of Nevada and a past NFB Scholarship recipient. Sunday she flies to Baltimore where she starts on Monday working at our National Center for the Blind on legislative initiatives such as the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment , or TIME Act. Americans with disabilities relegated to the injustice and indignity of subminimum wages have a new champion in Kimie Beverly! It’s been great to have you with us Kimie!
Will Reynolds also spent a couple of weeks with us at the Center completing practicum hours for his Master’s from the University of Northern Colorado. He plans to become an Orientation & Mobility Specialist working in K-12 schools. Will was particularly interested to work in a setting such as the Colorado Center for the Blind which uses sleepshades as a learning tool. He worked with our summer students for two
If only the Beach Boys were right about “Endless Summer”! This summer is ending, but 24 students from Colorado and five other states as well as Mexico, there were some great moments. From Denver’s 16th Street Mall to rafting on Clear Creek, from cooking in the kitchen to rock climbing at Eldorado Canyon, from canoeing, work experience or campus visits, to the NFB Convention in Orlando … they gained the confidence of conquering it all, these are young people with a future!
Today the last of our Summer students passed through DIA to catch their flights home. Wednesday was the big graduation Celebration, with a meal for over 100 cooked entirely by the students, awarding of certificates and a talent show.
The great lesson of the summer was summed up by Christian as the students and staff had a final moment together before serving their guests. In essence, Chris told his fellow students, “You all now know that you can be yourselves – you can take your canes to school and be yourselves.”
For those returning to high school where the temptation is sometimes overwhelming to “not stand out” by carrying a white cane, it was a powerful message.
But it was Vanessa S in her fedora that got the entire room rocking at the talent show with a re-purposed tune. “It’s all about that cane, ’bout that cane, ’bout that cane – and sleepshades …” she chanted to Alejandro’s guitar accompaniment and cheers and rhythmic hand-clapping from the audience.
Yesterday students and their counselors cleaned their apartments and packed. The first van of students left the apartments about 4:30 this morning.
So, enjoy a couple of photos, and a couple of Face Book posts from the past day or so …
Great last day at the center, I’m going to miss this place especially with the amazing ppl I’ve met. I’ve glad I’ve learned to deal with my blindness! It’s a tough situation but I just have to get through life looking to positive thoughts. The two people I will never forget Brittany B and Frankie. I will miss them a lot and would love to thank them for the times they dealt with me through thick and thin. It was a blessing to meet both of you and also the others. Love all smile emoticon
To my girls from apartment 205:
Thank you for spending your summer cooking, cleaning, laughing, crying, jamming out, watching movies, adventuring, and making some incredible memories with me! It has been such a joy to get to know both of you and to see how far you have come throughout the program. You both are like little sisters to me and I couldn’t be prouder!! Each of you had your own goals to work towards and I think you both went above and beyond what you expected of yourselves!
I wish you both, as well as all of my amazing students, the best of luck in the year ahead! Never stop believing in yourselves and your abilities, and
know I’m just a call or text away if you need anything! I love you nerds, and I am going to miss you!
💛, your favorite Hufflepuff weirdo
— with Terri and Marie at Colorado Center for the Blind
Hard to believe our summer programs are coming to an end. Today summer Earn & Learn students are finishing up their 40-hour internships across the Metro area. Not only do they gain valuable work experience – for some it’s their first paid job – but they travel independently to their job sites on foot and by public transportation. Jobs include
retail, reception, food service, checking web accessibility, radio production in Boulder, child care and all the chores at a riding stable, among others. Thanks to all of our employers for supporting our students! Hope you can all make to the draduation ceremony next Wednesday!
Saturday, July 16 was our Summer Science Seminar. With 24 summer youth we divided into three groups and rotated between three science activities. Martin strapped on the Go Pro and followed all three groups through their water rocket activity with Jamie Principato, a blind physics student who just finished her Associate’s degree at Arapahoe Community College in May. Jamie will enter the University of Colorado-Boulder in August. Oh yeah, Jamie is also our Math Tutor.
Christina, Keaton and Marie are working as interns for our long-time partners, The Right Step this summer. In fact, it’s Marie’s second year in our summer program and working at The Right Step. Their work includes cleaning stalls, cleaning old horse shoes to be reused, cleaning tack and taking care of the horses.
This morning they cleaned tack and then helped put up new Braille labels in the tack room. That’s the subject of this short video.
As an FYI, each horse has its own bag with its very own curry comb and brush, halter, lead rope and hoof pick.
The Right Step is a therapeutic riding program and the first of its kind in the U.S. to have Braille – not just in the tack room, but on the horses’ stalls too!