Thank you to you all
June 20, 2012
The number of visually impaired children in Bermuda who require/will require educational services from the Ministry of Education nearly tripled from 12 in September, 2010 to 32 by June, 2011 and as of today there have been 44 children. These children/students range in age from birth to 19. The six children in the initial programme are spread across the entire island from Sandys Secondary Middle School to St Georges Preparatory School who require Braille instruction and compensatory orientation and mobility skills. These students have limited vision and may lose their sight altogether. We are preparing these students to be able to cope and hope to give them the ability to be successful in the school environment and community. The programme is located at Prospect Primary School, since it is centrally located, and we bring the students and their paraprofessionals to this site. The pilot programme initially ran for 12 weeks. Due to the success, it was extended to June, 2012 and will now continue in the future.
William Ridley is the teacher and is assisted by the paraprofessionals Patti-Jean Roberts, Gina John, Jayne Benevides, Sharita Burrows Davis, Vanessa Tavares and Terri Crockwell. Jean Howes teaches the students to read Braille three days a week. Mr Ridley also has the assistance of Jennifer Roberts who is responsible for the younger children. We have tried to give the students as much exposure as possible. They have been to WindReach, City Hall, The Mall, Market Place, Lindos, Gorhams, Dunkleys and Wadsons Farm and it is great to see their confidence. They have no problem using their canes which really is a safety feature for other persons. I would like to thank Lloyd and Patti-Jean Roberts for arranging the transport of the students and paraprofessionals every week I would also like to acknowledge Dame Jennifer Smith, the Minister of Education, and her staff who have supported our programme and have assisted us where possible. I also want to thank Donna Edge-Bean, responsible for Special Needs Children, and William Ridley, who made this programme a reality.
The success of the programme could not have happened without the sponsorship of The Bank of Bermuda Foundation, HSBC, Cox Hallett Wilkinson, Bacardi, ACE, Fidelity and Aon. I would also like to express my sincere thanks to the following who have helped us over the year. RedLaser Ltd. donated two combination scanner/copier/printers. Joe has gone the extra mile and has helped us immensely. David Chapman who is the author of a series of books entitled Daddy and I Explore contacted me after the initial article in the newspaper after the Open House in November 2011. He was very interested in our programme and has donated the Braille version of his series through the generous sponsorship of HSBC. His mother, LaVerne Furbert and his daughter Zen presented the books on his behalf.
Complete Office gave us a generous discount on equipment. Marcia Woolridge has donated approximately 38 Braille books. Perkins School for the Blind has donated several boxes of Braille books to Jean Howes and has given us two manual Braille machines at a minimum price. Erica Fulton and Troy Farnsworth of WindReach who have given our programme unconditional support. Goal Ball is a new game for the visually impaired and our students have lessons every Thursday morning coached by Troy Farnsworth and William Ridley. Bermuda Society of Arts are presenting a show where artists have been invited to submit a tactile painting or article which can be touched. The children are excited and have been busy making articles that will be placed in a special section for their work. The show runs from July 6 through to July 25, 2012. Please make every effort to attend because it wont be like any other show.
Bank of Butterfield donated computer bags. Bermuda Society for the Blind have kindly agreed to accept donations on our behalf for the use of the Braille Programme. I have also received a donation from Mr and Mrs Eugene Mayor in memory of their friend, Elaine Swain (Smith) who worked in Bermuda for several years. Elaine was the Founder of Wings Away a charity in Australia to assist disabled children in Australia. I also received the following donations: Elsie Thorne, Neil Kempe, Michael Pitts from Florida, Marion Squire, Shawn and Dr Wendy Outerbridge, Leonie from Dr Teyebotchways office, Capt and Mrs David Semos of The Boys Brigade. Richard Calderon, Robert Calderon and Dr and Mrs Ewart Brown sent in a donation from a request from Mr and Mrs Aaron Adderley.
For the next year, we will concentrate on bringing persons in from the US who will be able to help with mobility training and orientation. Through the generous sponsorship of the Bank of Bermuda Foundation, we were able to bring Charlie Collins of Vision Dynamics in Connecticut who gave a motivational talk on how to cope being Visually impaired and it was amazing to see just how far you can go with vision problems. His main topic was that you see with your brain and not your eyes and to hear his life experiences and what he has accomplished was a tremendous boost to the childrens self esteem. Technology guru Scott Hagle of HIMS in Wisconsin was here in May to give the children tips on how to use the equipment to the fullest potential and we would like to get them back. I would also like to thank Jevon Roberts of CEO Transport Ltd who transported Charlie, Scott and guide dog Ben free of charge to various functions. Finally I would like to thank The Royal Gazette reporters Jonathan Bell and Jessie Moniz for covering many of the events which gave the Programme much needed exposure. If anyone wants any information or to assist in any way, please contact me at email@example.com
The Busy Bees –Braille Programme
Nahki makes Bermudian football history
Where are the jobs?
Wells pledges future to the Bantams
Top ten finish for Sims in South Carolina
Parkinson praises Wells display
Nahki inspires Bradford to victory
Stovell shines as Rangers win Belco Cup
Take Our Poll