Celebrating our Stars
Spectacular Special Groups
The term "strength in numbers" means a lot at Blind Children's Learning Center. When business groups and clubs in the community band toghether, they can accomplish so much for our children. Here are just some of the groups who gave their time to improve lives this year.
Blind author and motivational speaker Jake Olson electrified a sold out crowd when he proclaimed:
"I may not have my sight, but I have vision."
Held at Andrei's Conscious Cuisine on February 22, 2018, the dining in the dark experience put guests in the shoes of children who are blind and visually impaired.
Blind author and motivational speaker inspires guests and reminds everyone of the limitless potential of children with visual impairments.
Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and guests, children will have more chances to succeed beyond the obstacles caused by limited sight. By the end of the evening, Vision Beyond Sight raised over $141,000 in support of critical therapeutic services.
Therapeutic services promote healthy development and allow children to overcome countless obstacles. Visual impairments can affect every area of development, which makes it difficult for children to meet important milestones — crawling, walking, recognizing family, navigating, handling learning materials, self-care skills like feeding and dressing. The obstacles go on and on, but with the right support, so do opportunities and independence.
Blind Children's Learning Center has many people to thank. The evening's sponsors and donors for their generous support of children with visual impairments. Jake Olson and Master of Ceremonies Ed Blatchford for inspiring us all. A phenomenal planning committee and Board of Directors who made the entire evening possible.
To all, we thank you for creating a vision beyond sight.
"Mason's educational progress allows him to understand and access the world around him more independently. The biggest gift is the ability to play and interact with his peers."
-Charissa, Mason's mom
Watch Mason learn Braille contractions!
To compensate for the fact that 80% of early learning is driven by vision, Blind Children's Learning Center teaches students to learn with their whole bodies from a young age.
It's not a question of if our students can learn it, but how.
Children with visual impairments and other disabilities often experience delays in speech development, potentially robbing them the opportunity to build relationships and participate in academics.
Speech Therapy gives children tools to communicate — and a child who can communicate is a child who can learn, participate, and grow.
In so many ways, it unlocks a child's personality. You have the power to make this possible.
This is an important time of year to stop and be thankful for our many blessings. With so much going on in our world today, we want to let you know the difference you make in the lives of our children and their families.
When I think about the quality care and education you support in a nurturing, sensory rich and experiential environment, I get teary-eyed because I know it would not be possible without you.
I hope you understand the true impact of your generosity. We see your gifts in action every single day through the caring and capable hands of our therapists, teachers and staff.
Most importantly, we see the results of those gifts through the smiles on our students faces as they courageously tackle and overcome their obstacles. One of the beautiful things about BCLC is that not one of these achievements is ever done in isolation; it is always a team effort. Watching our children support each other in their own unique ways is a beautiful thing to witness.
We wish you and your families a safe and happy holiday filled with much love and gratitude. Thank you for all that you do to impact the lives of our BCLC children!
Colleen and the entire BCLC staff
President & Executive Director
Hope is named rather perfectly. But if going by the story of how she joined the Phillips family, “Destiny” might be your pick.
Kim Phillips’ eldest daughter, Abby, heard about ophans in China. The six year old began saving every dollar she received for future adoption expenses. It wasn’t long before Kim sensed this might become a family effort.
A friend in Tennessee heard of a young girl in China who was blind and needed a home. Kim remembers, “My heart started to pound. It felt like this was my daughter, but I had no clue how to raise a blind child.”
Hope Brailling in 2012.
Hope Brailling in 2017.
Her doctor in China said she would never speak, and learning English added another challenge. But Hope listened to her new family, teachers, and friends. Talking didn’t take long.
During her three years at BCLC, Hope blossomed socially and academically. She excelled in learning to Braille and use a mobility cane. Her favorite memory is being with friends in the daily living skills class.
Today, Hope builds upon those skills as she enters Sixth grade. She toured her new school, taking in the sounds and smells of new settings like a woodshop room. “I’m excited to learn my new environment,” says Hope.
Hope dreams of a bright and successful future. If anyone can be a dentist, choir teacher, and spin instructor, it’s her.
Hope knows she has what it takes to live independently and on her own terms. Blind Children’s Learning Center could not agree more.
Hope's success is just one reason why our collaboration with Bethel China means so much.
(presentation videos below)
As a baby, Hope lived in one of Bethel China's five foster care projects for orphans who are blind throughout China. The pieces all came together for BCLC’s Outreach Director, Irene Takahashi, and Deaf-Blind Intervener, Tricia Houlihan, to “go global” with early intervention.
At the invitation of former BCLC employee Christy Allen—now an education consultant for Bethel China—Irene and Tricia travelled to present at a three-day conference near Beijing, China.
Sharing early intervention and tactile communication strategies, BCLC joined Bethel China’s efforts to spread best practices throughout China.
“Parents came up to us in tears after presentations, realizing for the first time that their children could have independent lives.”
Combatting a significant cultural stigma towards disability, early intervention increases the chance that children will be adopted and receive an education.
“Our cultures may differ, but I found a shared belief in the abilities and potential of the children we interact with daily,” conveys BCLC Deaf-Blind Intevener, Tricia. She continues, “I felt a connection with the audience when sharing effective communication techniques.”
Collaboration between BCLC and Bethel China began in the Fall of 2016 when the Bethel China team toured the Center’s unique and inclusive facility. Blind Children’s Learning Center is thrilled to help Bethel China increase independence and dignity amongst children with visual impairments in China. The Center thanks Trinity United Presbyterian Church, Todd & Kristen Jackson, and Bethel China for underwriting travel expenses.
Tricia uses tactile communication with a child fostered by Bethel China.
Familiar tactile greetings, such as Deaf-Blind Intervener Tricia's bracelet, make it possible for Deaf-Blind children distinguish between individuals. This child now knows they have arrived to school.
A child's transition from the school bus to the child's classroom should be consistent. In doing so, they can navigate more independently and be better prepared to learn upon arriving to class.
Tactile symbols are part of a "Total Communication System" that allows children to make transitions throughout the day without relying on sight.
Therapeutic services help children compensate for specific areas affected by a visual impairment and other disabilities. Here, Physical Therapy helps a child achieve the major milestone of standing with minimal assistance.
Switches are a form of adaptive technology that allows children to communicate nonverbally and make choices. For a nonverbal child, this fundamentally alters how they can interact with peers and adults.
Name cues, along with other tactile symbols representing activities such as "play" and "lunch," create a reliable schedule for children with visual impairments to follow.
Dozens of Orange County preschoolers with visual impairments marked the start of the 2017 school year with a celebratory luncheon at the Blind Children’s Learning Center (BCLC) today. Highlighting the day’s events was the presentation of a $10,000 check from Johnson & Johnson Vision to support BCLC’s Global Infant Development program, which provides in-home services to children who are blind or have visual impairments, and their families.
“We are grateful for this new charitable contribution from Johnson & Johnson Vision,” said Colleen O’Higgins Roach, President and Executive Director of the nonprofit BCLC.
“Johnson & Johnson recognizes that sight is a precious sense, and that’s what motivates us to help improve and restore sight for more patients around the globe,” said Raymond Kong, Regional Vice President, Commercial Americas, Surgical, Johnson & Johnson Vision. “We are so pleased to support this program, as we have seen first-hand the incredible impact the Center can have through the experiences of one of our own employees, whose daughter is a student at the Center.” Johnson & Johnson Vision will deliver support to the BCLC’s Global Infant Development Program through its surgical vision operating company, Abbott Medical Optics Inc.
Children Receive Customized Support
BCLC’s Global Infant Development program provides customized therapeutic services to address each individual child’s needs, whether they are blind, visually impaired, or deaf and blind. And, because infants with visual impairment often experience other concurrent health conditions or may otherwise be medically fragile, BCLC’s Infant Vision Stimulation Specialists are dispatched to make “house calls” directly to each child’s home.
The Infant Vision Stimulation Specialist works directly with the child and their family members, introducing adaptive methods and various tools intended to encourage the child’s development, maximize their vision potential and effectively compensate for their lack of vision. Educational resources also are provided for family members who want to support their child’s unique development needs. Each child’s care is coordinated by a team of specialists, including licensed Occupational Therapists (OTs), speech and language pathologists (SLPs), Physical Therapists (PTs), and marriage and family therapists (MFTs). When the child is ready, they may transition to the Bright Visions Early Childhood Center, located on BCLC’s campus in North Tustin, California.
“The generous charitable contribution from Johnson & Johnson Vision will enable us to support an estimated 70 children and their families through our Global Infant Development Program, allowing us to extend our essential early intervention services to even more local infants and toddlers,” said Irene Takahashi, BCLC’s Director of Outreach.
Blind Children’s Learning Center, a non-profit agency, provides services for children with visual impairments. Founded in 1962 by adults who were blind, the organization was originally called “Services for the Blind, Inc.” The founders quickly discovered the key to helping a person with visual impairments was to start working with them at a very early age. Today the agency serves children and their families through the Global Infant Development Program, Bright Visions Early Childhood Center (an onsite preschool – 2nd grade) and Youth Outreach Services with the mission to prepare children with visual impairments for a life of independence through early intervention, education and family support. For more information, please visit www.blindkids.org
Vision Therapy helps infants and toddlers with visual impairments maximize their vision potential.
Johnson & Johnson Vision is committed to improving and restoring sight for patients worldwide. Since debuting the world's first disposable soft contact lens in 1987, it has been helping patients see better through the world-leading ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses portfolio. In 2017, Johnson & Johnson invested further in eye health by expanding into cataract surgery, laser refractive surgery (LASIK) and consumer eye health. Serving more than 60 million patients a day across 103 countries, Johnson & Johnson Vision is committed to helping more people in more places improve or restore their sight. Dual headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, and Santa Ana, California, Johnson & Johnson Vision has more than 8,400 employees worldwide.
In just one week, Ethan and his friends begin the new school year at Blind Children’s Learning Center.
Will you help us prepare for children like Ethan?
When Ethan and his twin brother Tyler were born at 34 weeks, there was no indication of complications. Both babies were placed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Within three weeks, Tyler gained enough weight to be discharged, but Ethan was still underweight. A CT scan revealed that Ethan had Septo Optic Dysplasia, a rare congenital disorder that causes underdevelopment (hypoplasia) of the optic nerves. The syndrome affects both eyes, allowing him to only see shadow and light.
To receive such a devastating prognosis was disheartening, but Ethan’s parents found hope at Blind Children’s Learning Center.
The Center’s infant development specialists began serving four-month-old Ethan and his parents in their home. After just three months, Ethan successfully transitioned into the on-site Bright Visions Early Childhood Center where he received occupational therapy, physical therapy, orientation & mobility, speech, and specialized education to meet his needs.
“Since Ethan has been at the Center, he has become more social and curious,” said Eleazar. “For us, the goal is for Ethan to be independent, and the Center is the best place for him to develop his independence.”
Please help us provide our students with the tools and resources necessary to overcome their challenges and make a donation today.
Graduation & Promotion Ceremony
This year's graduation on July 14 celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of children with visual impairments. Their strides towards literacy, academic success, and healthy development create hope for tomorrow. Plus, any day with yummy ice cream provided by the Chino Valley Lions Club is a success!
Sensational Summer Camp
Children built self-sufficiency and confidence through the inventive activities of this year's Mary Anne White Summer Camp. They used real power tools, made real food, handled real money, and much more to expand their practical knowledge through adaptive means.
Volunteers from National Charity League made Summer Camp possible. We are so grateful for their dedication and the time they spent training! Thank you to the following chapters: Orange/Villa Park, Monarch Beach, Irvine/Vista, and North Tustin.
Wescom Credit Union WeCare Foundation provided much needed assistance streamlining equipment and supply storage. Plus, they crafted tools to teach mathematics to children who are blind or visually impaired!
The new intern class at PIMCO Foundation rolled up their sleeves to help prepare for graduation, make adaptive learning tools, organize curriculum materials, and beautifying our campus. We loved hosting 68 volunteers for great volunteer day and blindfold lunch!
The Hwarang Leo Club began volunteering monthly this spring. In addition to keeping classrooms hygienic, they also buddied up with children during the summer camp field trip to Makapo Aquatics Project!
This year's Mary Anne White Summer Camp, a program of Blind Children's Learning Center, was full of joy, new experiences, and maximizing independence.
Hands on lessons motivated children with visual impairments to find fun while building self-sufficiency and confidence. Children ages 3-12 used real power tools (under close supervision), made real food, handled real money, and much more to expand their practical knowledge through adaptive means.
Summer Camp culminated to an exciting day of paddling in canoes and swimming with the Makapo Aquatics Project. Campers had a blast participating in a sport that is completely accessible to people who are sighted, visually impaired, or blind!
We are grateful to partner with volunteers from the community and the following National Charity League Chapters: Orange/Villa Park, Monarch Beach, Irvine/Vista, and North Tustin.
Each volunteer acted as 1-on-1 buddies after attending a training to learn the techniques for steering children with visual impairments and other disabilities towards independence. Their dedication and compassion helped children learn in a safe, supporting environment.
Summer camp is in memory of a very special child, Mary Anne White. Mary Anne passed away at 15 months old and received home-based services through Blind Children's Learning Center for most of her life.
We thank Mary Anne's family for the privilege of honoring her memory and the support they have given to so many children throughout the years.
Before next year's summer camp, our children have a full year of learning and growing to do. A gift today helps ensure that when school begins this fall, children with visual impairments have the tools, environment, and skilled teaches and therapists they need to succeed.
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