DCPS Blind and Visually Impaired Students Celebrate Black History Month
February 11, 2011
Student Crichelle Brown welcomes the crowd to the Black History Month event.
Dan Galloway, president of the National Federation of the Blind of the District of Columbia, shares his life story with the students.
“When I lost my sight I realized I needed to reach out and bring things to me. That’s called self-advocacy,” said Don Galloway, president of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of the District of Columbia.
Mr. Galloway was addressing a crowd of more than 35 people who had gathered for the annual Black History Month event for blind and visually impaired students at DCPS. The Capital East Chapter of the NFB hosted the event on February 7.
A Ray Charles CD played in the background as DCPS students and vision staff, and representatives from the DC Public Library and the DC Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) came together to celebrate Black History Month.
Crichelle Brown, a visually impaired twelfth grade student at Woodrow Wilson High School and secretary of the student division of the NFB, delivered the welcoming address to the crowd.
“This will not only be an enjoyable event, but you also will have some inspiration to go above and beyond,” said Crichelle.
The themes of self-advocacy and independence were emphasized throughout the four-hour event as accomplished African-American men and women from across DC who also were blind or visually impaired shared their stories with the students.
“I hope that these stories will be inspiring and motivating to the students,” said Joie Stuart, president of the Capital East Chapter of the NFB. “We believe in ‘Yes, we can.’ With education, hard work and dedication, you can do anything.”
Many of the speakers, who included Mr. Galloway and an RSA representative, discussed the challenges of blindness, poverty and race in America.
The students, all of whom were African-American or Hispanic, listened intently, asking the speakers questions about their life and accomplishments.
After Mr. Galloway told a story about playing basketball when he was younger, one of the students raised his hand to ask a question.
“How could you play basketball?” he asked.
Mr. Galloway explained that the team used sounds to help guide him as he played. He also said that with adaptations, visually impaired individuals could play whatever sport they wanted.
Ms. Norma Villanueva, program director of low incidence disabilities for the Office of Special Education at DCPS, said that at the end of the day, she wanted the students to leave with a clear understanding that they can accomplish anything, including something as simple as playing basketball.
“I want these students to hope for a future defined by independence, meaningful employment and productive citizenship,” said Ms. Villanueva. “Students with disabilities are twice as likely as their non-disabled peers to live in poverty as adults. To break this cycle of poverty, we must give them the opportunity to achieve positive post-secondary outcomes.”
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