The Colorado Schoool for the Deaf and the Blind (CSDB) recently launched a great video series focusing on role models for their blind and deaf students. Our own Martin Becerra-Miranda, Director of Youth Services, is featured in this one:
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.
It could be called a convergence. A handful of students who want to talk about their blindness, what they are learning at the Colorado Center for the Blind, how they are learning about being blind and proud – and how they’ve learned from their teachers, but especially one another, to laugh at themselves when they make mistakes.
And yes, at one another.
Couple that with the recent arrival of Brett Boyer, a CCB alum and experienced commercial broadcaster, as our newest Technology instructor, and you have a – well, imperfect storm.
What you get is “No End in Sight”, a monthly podcast featuring Boyer and a rotating cast of CCB students which launches this week.
But let’s give kudos to this first cast of characters, the instigators of “No End in Sight”, if you will: Abdi Mumin, Annette Wilson, Cory Williams and Nick Isenberg who range in age from 22 to 77, not to mention others working off-mic. They have a message about blindness they want you to hear.
Take a listen and subscribe if you like it. “No End in Sight” is available through all the usual outlets. It’s worth your time!
Our alum Poonam Vaidya of Bangalore was recently part of a BBC World Service radio episode of “The Conversation.” She spoke about blindness with another guest, a blind attorney from Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia. Shortly afterward, the BBC posted this short video of Poonam. Check it out:
In this part of the world, the BBC’s World Service can be heard during normal sleeping hours on one of our public radio stations. This week our volunteer photographer/videographer Mike Thompson had the BBC World Service on while falling back to sleep in the wee hours when he heard a familiar voice and a familiar name – Poonam Vaidya.
Poonam is from Bangalore, India and was one of our international students. (We always try to have one international student at any given time.), She graduated in 2016. Poonam was one of two blind women interviewed for the BBC program, “The Conversation.” The 30-minute radio podcast gives interesting insights into how blindness is viewed in other cultures.
And thanks for the great plug Poonam!
Editor’s Note: What follows is an e-mail Director Julie Deden received from Serena, a recent graduate of our Independence Training Program (ITP).Serena is the fifth ITP grad to find employment in the last month or so. It’s the best kind of news! We print the message with her permission.
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I have some great news for you. Today, I received my official offer of employment from the NJ Commission for the Blind! I’ll be working with blind seniors. I’ll be starting on October 30th.
Words can’t express the gratitude I feel towards you and all my instructors for all I learned during my time at CCB. You not only taught me, but inspired and motivated me and filled me with confidence that I can do even the things that are hard for me. I will never forget my time at CCB and will always treasure my memories of it. I rang my freedom bell today.
With love, respect, and thanks,
We’ve updated our Independence Training Program in time for the National Federation of the Blind’s 2016 convention June 30 to July 5 in Orlando. There are new voices as well as well-known ones, new insights and time-tested gems as well about how the Center’s program can help blind students take charge of their lives with confidence and self-reliance. It’s live, so take a peek on our YouTube channell now!
It’s the last week of July, and at the Colorado Center for the Blind we’re fighting the feeling that summer is almost over. We know that there are still weeks of hot weather, lovely warm Colorado evenings to enjoy.
But that vague anxiety is fueled as the last week of July saw our 22 summer students graduating on Wednesday, cleaning and packing on Thursday and leaving on Friday. Many of them are starting school in the first week of August. For them, summer truly is about over.
It was a big week, and a big summer. Eighteen students flew out from DIA Friday, and these Face Book posts give a sense of the momentousness of the last week of July – and the last two months:
From Shay: Here at the airport, waiting to go home. Thinking about this summer, and how great it was. I met a lot of really amazing people this summer that have really help me and challenge me to do the best that I could. I am leaving here with so much. New friendships, amazing memories, and The ability to do more than I ever thought I could. I will never forget the memories or the people I met this summer. hope to come back next summer and to see all of you sometime again.
From Sami: So I got on that plane and had to say a temporary goodbye to some of the greatest individuals I’ve ever met. It was the hardest thing i could’ve done. You guys have changed my life and taught me so much. Thank you for everything.
More Summer Highlights
In their last week, the 17 Earn & Learn students picked up their last paychecks. For many of these students, these were their first paychecks ever!
Three students worked at The Right Step, feeding horses,hauling sand to level the riding arena, and lots more. Sure they got paid, and then on Tuesday they also got a riding lesson!
The students finished up by cooking a meal Wednesday for the entire Center and guests, which included family members and employers for some of the kids in the Earn & Learn Program. They cooked a delicious baked ziti for more than 100 and then many performed in the talent show.
Their departure left a void, and the Center was pretty quiet without them on Friday. One of our nine awesome summer counselors posted on Face Book, tagging the two students she lived with, taught and came to love this summer:
“I don’t know what to do with myself!” she posted Friday evening.
As you can tell, more than just skills happen, even more than just the confidence and self-reliance of our tag line.
And yet, …
The Center wasn’t quiet this week for our other programs either. On Friday the Seniors made a trip to Golden and the Coors Brewery for a tour. RTD’s W and C Lines provided the designated drivers.
There were three dinner parties given at the apartments by Independence Training Program students – Marcus, Gwendolyn and J.J. all cooked and served great meals to five or more guests.
On Friday Curtis had his mini-meal – a meal for 15 guests, and served a delicious and abundant meal of homemade macaroni and cheese with barbecued chicken and green beans from our garden.
There were two Monster Routes on Friday – Carolyn and Sarah both completed the requirement of visiting four places they had never been before in four different cities in the Denver Metro area – all in one day. The real challenge of this grad requirement in cane travel is in the planning it takes to pull it off. Both are scheduled to graduate next week.
And another of our “summer” students finished up on Friday. Robin House came with the summer youth and left about the same time. She is a past NFB Scholarship winner and a school counselor in the St. Louis area, and spent her summer vacation under sleepshades during the week. On her own time, she hiked and biked and even climbed a 14er!
On Friday night a dozen of her classmates and six staff members sent her off with a dinner of Thai food… and a lot of love.
“I planned for the skills, but this …” Robin told the group, meaning the connections, friendships and support that grow between students and staff, “this was something I simply could not have anticipated.”
Now at the start of August, we have two graduations this week, and another student, J.J. finishes another “summer” ITP program before heading back to CSU for her junior year.
Then comes Littleton’s Western Welcome Week. The Center is offering interactive tours to the community, we’ll walk in the parade on Saturday, August 15 and many of us will help out with the Denver Chapter’s booth that day in the arts and craft fair.
There’s so much yet to do before Labor Day!
(Editor’s Note: Colorado Gives Day seems like a great time to share this. Sam Barasso graduated from the Center in February of 2014. She’s working at a part-time job and getting ready to return to college. This Face Book post reminded us all that blindness isn’t what holds us back – what holds us back is sometimes a lack of skills, and always a lack of confidence in ourselves as blind people. It’s why we do what we do at the Center and in the National Federation of the Blind.)
Day 21 of the 30 people I’m thankful for in 30 days goes to the amazing staff at the Colorado Center for the Blind. You guys have become like family. You’ve seen me through many lows and many highs and you never gave up on me. I appreciate that more than I can tell you. You do so much for everyone who steps through those doors and learns from you and you never stop teaching us, even after we’re students.
You teach us so much more than just the subjects you’re required to, you teach us valuable life lessons and you help us all out in so many ways.
Thanks to Julie, Dan, and Brent for not giving up the fight to get me to come to CCB and to be an NFB member, to Mo for understanding my fear of travel and pushing my limits and helping me to overcome it, to Kimberly for being like a mom to me and giving me some of the best advice and listening to me vent. Thanks to Shon for pushing me so hard in the kitchen and having faith in me and my abilities, Maureen and Delfina for being amazing advice givers and keeping me on top of things when I’d get distracted, to stevey P
for also pushing my limits in travel and making me laugh, to Chip for talking Broncos football and putting up with my sometimes ineptitude with technology.
Thanks to Petr for being an amazing residential manager and making cleaning my apartment fun with our laughter and deep conversations, to Jen for being
an amazing friend to me and laughing so much with me while quoting random movies and musicals, and to those not on Facebook, Robert for putting up with me bothering him at the desk, Kinney for creating one of the coolest shop projects ever with me, and of course Tom, for everything.
Thank you all for helping me gain the confidence I needed to succeed in life. I don’t know where I’d be without all of your help and support and I’m forever grateful for all of you.
November 24 at 12:19pmPublic
A Summer 2014 Student Reflects
(Editor’s Note: What follows is excerpted from an August 6, 2014 blog post of The Blind Coloradan, the official blog of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. An Arizona high school student, Christian Able was a student this summer and worked 40 hours for the NFBCO staff. Here’s his reflection on the summer program at the Center and his work with the NFB of Colorado.)
Stepping on that plane a month ago I thought everything would be easy and I wouldn’t learn anything this summer. That’s not the case at all. I would say the sleep shades helped me see. At my school I learn a lot about living successfully as a blind individual, but coming here has been a whole other experience.
I think myself to be a good traveler, but traveling with graduates of the Center has shown me I have a lot to learn. The skills the Center Staff teach are those used in everyday life. I really expected work to be simple and that my employer wouldn’t know how to work with me because I’m blind. Nevertheless as soon as I stepped through the door the first day she had a day’s work planned out. As soon as I finished something I always had more to do and that’s how I like it. I don’t like sitting around. I love that I’m never bored.
The most important thing I learned this summer though, would have to be, that the NFB straight canes are the best! Before I came here I hated them because they were too light, but after being able to move around so easily and finding some interesting places to put my cane, I love them. Even though they don’t fold they still are the best choice for a cane user and by cane user I mean everyone. I say if you have some vision loss, even a little, you should always have a cane in hand instead of a pole on your face.
The best part about the summer had to be wearing sleep shades. Although they were itchy and dark, they were my greatest tool. Wearing sleep shades forced me to use skills I never knew I had and I loved every moment of it. After a while sleep shades were a second life to me. Some days I would forget I had them on and walk from the Center to the bus stop and back to my apartment and not know I still had them on.
That’s why I say my sleep shades helped me see, because they did. They helped me to see my skills exceed what I thought were their limits.
After seeing so many people who have graduated from the Center being so confident and successful it has really made me want to attend ITP when I graduate from high school. Just from these eight weeks this summer I have gained confidence that I never knew was there. I know that even if I lose the rest of my vision at some point, with the confidence I bring back with me from Colorado, I can still be the Best I can.