"Leap into Life"- A new program from DORS-BESB to Engage Young Adults in Areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum in the Connecticut Community

Date Posted: 01/05/2018

The State of Connecticut Bureau of Education Services for the Blind has kicked off a new program this fall called “Leap into Life”. The program is focused on providing young adults the opportunity to gather together from all around the state to work on various areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum. There have been two programs already this year, and there are more in the works for 2018!

This past fall we invited students to Parmalee Farms in Killingworth for a day of hiking, socializing, and a little lunch. The day started out with a couple of the students going to the grocery store to do the shopping for the ingredients for lunch. Upon arriving at Parmalee Farms, the students took part in an icebreaker to get to know each other a little better, and then had a lesson on sighted guide and cane skills for walking on uneven terrain.

Prior to setting out on the trail, there was a guest speaker who is an adult blind hiker. He gave some additional pointers on how to navigate the uneven terrain on the wooded trail. He also shared some of the tools he uses when hiking an unfamiliar environment and gave each of the students the opportunity to trial them while on the trail. The trail was just under a mile long and it wound through the expansive property leading us back to our starting point.

Following the hike, the students made their own sandwiches and poured their drinks with guidance as needed. They had a great time talking about their experiences during the hike over lunch.

Our most recent trip occurred over the December holiday break and it was to the New Britain Museum of American Art. The students were invited to the museum to partake in a white glove tour of the museum’s sculptures in the galleries. The students, while wearing the gloves, were able to explore the art tactually which is not typically offered to the public. As the docent described the pieces verbally, the students were able to make connections between what they were hearing and what they were touching.

The museum also had multiple paintings for the students to explore through auditory description. The students had to previously download a QR reader app onto their smart phones to access the auditory description. The recordings were made available through CRIS Radio, which is Connecticut’s only radio reading service for people who are blind. You can check out CRIS radio and all they have to offer here.

Following the museum tour, two Connecticut resident college students, both of whom are blind, shared their experiences of college life including using public transportation, using technology, utilizing the disability coordinator’s office, making sure they get all their materials in accessible formats and more. The students were given the opportunity to ask questions in an open forum setting and gained a lot of knowledge from the college student mentors regarding academic and campus life.

Following the discussion, the students were able to order their own lunches from the café menu which was accessible online prior to their visit. Some students preferred to use their cell phones to take pictures and magnify the paper menu rather than navigating to the website and listening.

Areas covered in the Expanded Core Curriculum included but were not limited to:
Parmalee Farms Trip
Independent Living Skills
Self-Determination
Orientation and Mobility
Recreation and Leisure
Social Interaction

New Britain Museum of American Art
Compensatory Skills
Independent Living Skills
Self-Determination
Orientation and Mobility
Recreation and Leisure
Social Interaction
Technology

Our next trip is scheduled for Saturday February 3, 2018 to Ski Sundown in New Hartford, CT. The students will have the chance to downhill ski with adaptive ski instructors. The cost of this trip is free as are all “Leap into Life” programs.

If you are interested in getting more information on this trip or to be added to our mailing list for future trips, please contact Beth Borysewicz at beth.borysewicz@ct.gov

Contact: Beth Borysewicz, Teacher of the Visually Impaired

Phone: (860) 602-4073

Email: beth.borysewicz@ct.gov

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