Sightseeing. A periodic tour of CVI news, views and events.

Volunteer/Donor Gives Hope

BEGIN student using Tomato Chair in class

Volunteer/Donor Gives Hope to CVI Families

By Emily Pack, TVI in the BEGIN Program at the Center for the Visually Impaired

Before this school year, a classroom specifically designed for students with Cortical Visual Impairments (CVI) was merely an idea we hoped to set in to place - a hope that would take a lot of time and resources that weren't readily available. However, we decided that the Center needed to be that place for hope and inclusion for all of our students. One of the biggest needs we had were adaptive chairs called Tomato Chairs that were mobile. This would allow all of the children to participate in all of the activities, and with the help of one generous volunteer and donor, Mr. Ed, we were able to bring this idea to reality.

For the families participating in our CVI 1 & CVI 2 programs, the first day of class brought anxiety about how their child would be included, when so many times before, their child faced difficulties even while in an "inclusive environment." As quickly as class invitations to families were sent out, questions came streaming in. Many of the questions we received were "would the activities be too hard for my child with motor impairments," "will there be any students like my child attending," and "does my child need to be walking to participate?" We did all we could to reassure the families that this class was truly meant to be inclusive.

In early September, our families took their first steps into a brand-new class, and with a sigh of relief, found that for once their child was the norm and not the exception. With a fleet of mobile Special Tomato Chairs, our students were able to dance during circle time, sit with their peers at the art table, and freely move from center to center during learning station. This would not have been possible without the support of Mr. Ed.

When asked about his connection to CVI, Ed said “I was introduced to the Center for the Visually Impaired while serving as President of the Lions Club Camp and began volunteering in the STARS program. I think what CVI does is important for the kids and want to support that in whatever way I can.”

Thankful doesn't begin to describe how I felt watching the children gain independence and their families make connections. While the time spent in class was short, the impact the class has already made is lasting!