Browse By Topic: Sports

Letticia Martinez, Paralympian Swimmer Who Is Blind, Shares Her Story to Encourage Parents

Editor's note: AFB FamilyConnect knows sports and physical education have benefits aplenty for children who are blind and visually impaired. In an effort to inspire parents of children with visual impairments to encourage participation in sports, we enthusiastically share Paralympian swimmer, Letticia Martinez’s story. Letticia Martinez Shares Her Story to Encourage Parents Often time people assume


Inclusion in Life: Ted Talk Speaker Kristin Smedley Shares About Her Children with Visual Impairments

In the opening of her Ted Talk this past May, Kristin Smedley shared a very honest story about one of many very hard days as the mother of a blind toddler. Michael was three years old, bouncy and delightful. She was paralyzed daily by the fear, anger, and grief that his CRB1 diagnosis caused her. One day, in particular, she couldn’t make it out of bed. Why was this happening? Why would this happen to her child? In that moment, she could hear her son make his way down the hall to her room. Mommy, are you in here? Yeah, buddy, I’m right here in front of you on the bed. Mom, I just had to come down here and tell you, isn’t this just the best day ever? The sun is shining, and


Hands-On Summer Activities for Children with Visual Impairments

Editor's Note: Today's post is from guest blogger Paula Korelitz. Paula, a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI), offers her suggestions for hands-on activities for your child who is visually impaired. Summer’s officially here! This extended vacation time provides an opportunity to add to your child’s general knowledge base and encourage self-confidence and growth. It’s also a great time to start asking your child what he wants to be. Believe it or not, your child’s age doesn’t matter, even toddlers may have a ready answer to that question. So, what can we incorporate this summer that’s hands-on, super fun, meaningful, and promotes knowledge, self-confidence, growth, or career awareness? Let’s take a look. Hands-On Summer Activities for


Empowered by Sports: The United States Association of Blind Athletes Offers Life-Changing Recreational Opportunities

Editor’s Note: FamilyConnect aims to help parents recognize the importance of recreational activities for children and teens with visual impairments as well as identify agencies and associations who provide recreational instruction and opportunities for blind and visually impaired children and adults. Families, meet the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA)! Empowered by Sports By Courtney Patterson of the United States Association of Blind Athletes Approximately 70 percent of American youth who are blind or visually impaired do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum due to barriers in education and


Making Sports Accessible for Children and Teens Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

If I say, accommodations and modifications for children and teens who are blind or visually impaired, your first thought is likely children accessing education. You’d be right, but that’s not where the necessity for accommodations concludes! We, parents and teachers, are often quite focused on our children grasping the academic curriculum and reaping the full benefit of school. Understandable. Importance of Sports Let us not, however, neglect the importance of children who are blind or visually impaired accessing


Goalball: An Overview from the United States Association of Blind Athletes

Editor's Note: Today's blog post provides an overview of goalball, a competitive sport for blind athletes, as well as information on finding teams for various ages. This information has been generously shared from the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) and was originally published on USABA's site. To watch goalball in action, USABA recommends their informational goalball video. What Is Goalball? Goalball is a Paralympic team sport played by athletes who are blind and visually impaired. The sport was introduced as a medal event at the 1976 Paralympic Games in Toronto. However, it originated in 1946 when Austrian, Hanz Lorrenzen and


Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children: Summer Camp Option for Children with Visual Impairments

The Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children has been spicing up summertime with beach days, sports, and day trip adventures along the Jersey Shore since 1972. Camp Director, Anna Ackley, shares what they have on the horizon for 2017 and the essence of being a part of Diller. Summer 2017 at Diller The Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children is getting ready to open its doors to campers for their annual summer camp sessions, and this year’s agenda is jam packed with fun. The camp’s mission is to provide a home-away-from-home where kids can engage in community events, run around in the sun, and establish lasting friendships with


Summer Camps for Youth Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: Enrollment Time!

Editor's Note: Today's blog post is from VisionAware peer advisor, Audrey Demmitt. Audrey is a wife, mother of three adult children, and a registered nurse living with retinitis pigmentosa. As an outdoor enthusiast and a counselor at SEE Adventure Camp, Audrey is pleased to share two great summer camps for your child who is blind or visually impaired. Summer Camps for Youth Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: Enrollment Time! By Audrey Demmitt Attending summer camp is sort of a “rite of passage” for many


Give the Gift of Equality

Birthday and Christmas always have people wondering what to buy for our son who is blind. Not only does his diagnosis of blindness throw them off, but also his unique characteristics associated with autism. My request this holiday season is that everybody simply give him the gift of equality. Recently, while attending an event for children who are blind, Eddie received this gift. He was asked to play goalball, a sport specific to blindness, and he was asked to play like everybody else. The organizers didn’t look at him and think, “Will he be able to play?” “Will he want to get down on the floor?” “Will he be motivated to engage with his peers?” They didn’t


My Child Who Is Visually Impaired Is Bound by No Limits

Editor's note: Today's blog post is from Amanda Bowdoin, M.Ed., a certified teacher of the visually impaired, and mother of JD, her 11-year-old son who has CHARGE Syndrome and is deaf-blind. Bound By No Limits Bound By No Limits, that was the theme for the 18th Annual Sports Extravaganza for the Blind and Visually Impaired. This annual event provides opportunities for students with visual impairments to excel and show off their talents in a variety of activities that will encourage a more active lifestyle by participating in leisure, recreation, and competitive sports. This event by Region 10 and the Lions


Possibilities Are Endless

Editor's note: Today's blog post is from Amanda Bowdoin, M.Ed., a certified teacher of the visually impaired in Texas. She earned her master's degree in visual impairment from Stephen F. Austin State University. Amanda is also a mother of twins, JD and Oliva, who are 11 years old. Her son JD has CHARGE Syndrome and is deaf-blind. Imagine being told by your doctor when your child is born that there is no chance of your baby making it, that he is going into renal failure, and needs not one but two heart surgeries followed by more than 25 surgeries over the next 11 years. Imagine after nine months in the hospital bringing


This Fall, Maybe We Should Teach Our Children (With and Without Visual Impairments) It's Okay to Fall

When you read each of these sight words correctly to your teacher, maybe we can go to the donut store, I heard myself say to my seven-year-old. Her eyes grew big, I thought with excitement at the motivation. It took mere seconds to realize they widened out of panic. The pressure was on; she had to remember what c-o-u-l-d spelled, and she could not. What have I done?! I self-talked. I’ve made this about perfection and I’m only rewarding perfection. Why oh why would I do this to my daughter who hates failing? She places heaps of pressure onto herself and here


Ready, Set, Go!

Three or four years ago I was helping teach a summer camp for children who are blind. My son was the right age for the camp, but developmentally he wasn’t ready. The kids were learning how to take a bus, prepare meals, and even ride tandem bikes. While I was captaining one of these bikes, I felt sad because I didn’t think Eddie would be able to ride a bike like this…even though he’d love it. We had a handicap bike stroller he really enjoyed over the years. We received the stroller when he was four, and now that he was eleven, I wasn’t so sure about the weight limit. It may be able to hold him, but my legs certainly weren’t


Paralympics and Our Newly Motivated Children

Parents, I know you are as impressed with the Paralympic athletes as I am! Absolutely remarkable displays of power, speed, strength, agility, resolve, and grit: unequivocal athleticism. I watched them, just as I watched the Olympic athletes, and felt a surge of adrenaline…like I needed to pick up a set of boxing gloves and release my inner athlete. I realize that’s because these individuals are champions, whether or not they have a disability, and champions


Spring Sports: Why and How to Include Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

I remember well a former student of mine who had low vision and was football obsessed. He enjoyed throwing and catching with his dad, playing on a leisure league, and helping coach young children in football on a weekend community league. This teen was swollen with pride when the football team at his high school asked him to record game scores and assist in coaching. He learned teamwork. He learned how to deal with winning and losing. He learned to submit to a coach's authority. He learned to lead as he assisted in coaching. And you know what else he gained from the hobby? He was physically


Experience Gifts for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa

“This Christmas,” my parents told me when I was twelve “we are going on a family trip instead of buying presents. Here’s why: Do you remember what we bought you last year? No? Well, you never forget an experience.” They were right. I never forgot that trip; we drove from our home in Raleigh to a cabin-inspired hotel in the North Carolina mountains for the weekend. It was my first time playing in the snow and it was marvelous. And so began a new tradition where we had a small gift to open on Christmas, but the highlight was the forging of a memory. To my parents, thank you for that


Erik Weheinmayer Employment Interview

You might know it is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and I was offered the opportunity to share some information with you. I manage the American Foundation for the Blind's CareerConnect program. AFB CareerConnect is a career exploration, job seeking skills, navigating the employment process, and e-mentoring web program. You might guess that I am quite passionate about employment and the transition from school to work. In my work with AFB CareerConnect, I have been able to connect with fabulous and inspiring individuals who are blind or visually impaired. One of the coolest and one of my personal favorites has been Erik Weihenmayer, world-renowned


NAPVI National Conference for Families

We have just returned from the National NAPVI conference for families held this past weekend in Chicago. We were so grateful to meet parents and teachers from around not only the country, but the world. (Kudos to the mother, aunt, and baby who traveled all the way from Australia!) The message families gave us is that they need for more information on everything from dealing with bullies, to coping with the frustration and social challenges of being a non-driver. With so many great ideas, we will be working to add to our current collection of articles in both English and Spanish. There were so many speakers and topics that there was something for


Finding Fun Things to Do When You Are Visually Impaired

There are a couple of ways to find out fun things to do when you are visually impaired. Find local organizations or groups that organize events or activities. In my example, I found a running club organization called Achilles International. They organize races and events, and they pair volunteers with people with any disabilities to run or walk. There is probably a local organization that would have fun


In Honor of Father’s Day, A Son’s Thoughts About Parenthood and Blindness

With the Father's Day approaching, it is important to recognize the support and care of parents. I would like to share my experiences when growing up. Equality One of the things that my parents got right was promoting a sense of equality when growing up. Promoting equality for me means treating each child the same way and providing the same opportunities, rights, and responsibilities. I have an older brother but of course, all families are different you might be a single child or have several siblings. My parents always encouraged us to do things the same way even though I am visually impaired.


Harnessing Adversity: A Chat with Erik Weihenmayer and Amy Van Dyken-Rouen

We're delighted to host a guest post today from Buddy Levy, presenting his interview with Erik Weihenmayer and Amy Van Dyken-Rouen. What do a blind outdoor adventurer and an asthmatic six-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer have in common? Turns out, the same thing that all of us have in common in some form or other: adversity. Everyone faces adversitywhat matters is how they face it, according to Erik Weihenmayer and Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, who got together recently for a web-hangout interview ahead of this summer’s No Barriers Summit, to be held in Park City, Utah July 9-12. Van Dyken-Rouen, a celebrated U.S. Olympic swimmer who was paralyzed in 2014 in an ATV accident, is the event's keynote speaker at the opening ceremonies, and Weihenmayer, a


Embracing the Fear That Comes With Being the Parent of a Child Who Is Blind

Alyssa at her ski lesson I am the mom of 16-year-old twins, Ryan, who is sighted and Alyssa, who is blind. My children are AWESOME!!! I have friends, looking to adopt, and they have asked for notification of any child who is visually impaired, as they would like the opportunity to adopt him/her. This makes perfect sense to me. Having a child who is blind certainly does add a different element to our liveswe have to talk more, touch more, and choose our vocabulary carefully. We have to be fearless, because our fear will inspire the fear of othersteachers, principals, care providers, and


An Interview with Charlotte Brown, Visually Impaired High School Athlete

We've written previously about Charlotte Brown, the legally blind Texas teenager who participates in basketball and runs cross country, and even holds her high school's record in the pole vault. She was recently featured in the New York Times article, It's Just Another Hurdle for Blind Athletes, which noted that "it is extremely rare for the visually impaired to compete in the pole vault. It is one of track and field's riskiest and most technically demanding events, requiring competitors to sprint down a runway, plant the pole in a box, invert their bodies and turn 180 degrees while


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