Friday, August 20, 2010

First experience with visually impaired children

Note: Staff members from the Camp Abilities CT program are providing their insight on learning about working with children with visual impairments.

Hello everyone! This is Deirdre Burke, a first year volunteer counselor at Camp Abilities. This has truly been a life changing experience for me. The night before coming to camp I was really worried about coming, I laid in bed thinking about what if I said the wrong things? What if I wasn’t able to communicate effectively with the students? This was going to be my first time ever working with visually impaired kids and I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to help these kids and give them a great week. Looking back now I realize that I had nothing to worry about. From the second I got to camp I felt completely comfortable. These kids are some of the sweetest, kindhearted, friendliest, genuine, hardworking kids that I have ever met. Throughout the week I saw students accomplish goals, overcome fears, and make new friends. I thought that working with kids that had vision impairments would be incredibly difficult but in reality these kids are just kids, normal kids that just happen to have vision impairments. They might not be able to SEE everything that other kids can see but they can DO what all other kids can do. I made great relationships with the kids by teaching them how to swim, singing to "Party in the U.S.A.", climbing the ropes course, sleeping outside under the stars, playing goalball and beep baseball, and just hanging out in our bunks. I can't sit here and make it all seem like it was the easiest thing in the world. Yes, it was difficult at times. I had to take a step back and slow down. I needed to learn to have patience because certain tasks take more time for these students to complete. I had to become more detailed in the way I described things and in the directions I gave. I didn't even know how to give proper sighted guide at first (which in the beginning of the week I was calling guide sight, sight guided, etc.) Just a couple of days with these amazing kids has really changed me. I have decided that I want to work with vision impaired children for a career. I got so much satisfaction from working with these children and they have taught me more this week than I could have ever taught them. I'm looking forward to researching careers in the field and working with Robbin! Now I have to get out there and play some beep baseball with these crazy energetic kids! Wish me luck!!

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