The Children’s Program offers Visually Impaired Children the opportunity to experience summer camp and the surrounding community, putting them on an equal playing field with those children who can see:
Marcia and Todd Muller’s son was born more than 14 weeks prematurely, and before he was 6 months old Andrew had already undergone several complex surgeries to mitigate serious vision issues. With his mom and dad’s encouragement, Lighthouse of Collier is helping this lively 4 year old begin to ‘spread his wings’.
Marcia: At first we were hesitant to have Andrew attend Lighthouse’s summer camp since he was so young and had never been away from his family. We were surprised when on the 2nd day of camp Andrew was waiting at the front door of our house at 6:45am with his backpack on asking if it was time to go yet? So much for separation anxiety.
With compliments to the staff and volunteers, our hopes and expectations for summer camp were definitely met and exceeded: positive interaction with other children, activities that were specially geared to Andrew’s abilities and gave him a feel for being away from mom and dad.
Andrew’s favorite activities at camp were the outings including paddle boarding. He loved riding the bus with the others and heading out on adventures, it really gave him a sense of independence. Most of all he loves all the new friends that he has made while attending the programs at Lighthouse.
It’s comforting for us to know Lighthouse of Collier will be there as we prepare Andrew to enter the school system. The staff with their resources and expertise will be able to guide us and his school with any special equipment and guidance Andrew might need, and also help him realize there are many children with impairments just like him.
Meet John Urguhart
The World is in their Hands
iPhone Helps Visually Impaired Connect to the World Around Them
For eight years, John Urquhart just wanted to contact his wife. John is 85, has been legally blind since 2004, and has severe frostbite on his fingers, so seeing a phone or even pressing the buttons was a challenge for John. The iphone classes at Lighthouse of Collier has changed John’ world and because of his ability to use his new iPhone, he is now able to communicate with the outside world and feel connected once again. After participating in class, he was able to call his wife and when he did learn, he continued to dial and dial until he was finally able to reach her. When she finally did pick up, he joked with her about doing the housework and then followed it up with laugh. The technology class gives clients as overview of the basic iPhone apps, how to download them, check for updates, how to make phone calls, use Siri and use FaceTime. The most rewarding part of being involved with class is watching the students go from doubting their ability to be able to use the iPhone and their need for it, to using Siri, making phone calls and being glad they learned. John is now committed to makes one phone call a week to someone in his life he hasn’t spoken to in quite some time and then makes a point of keeping in touch using his iPhone. Jackie, his wife, said “I’m mostly just happy for him because that really opens up new things for him, almost a new world”.
Meet Marilyn Day
“Showing the Way” by Marilyn Day of Naples, January 11, 2012.
“I have been a resident of Collier County for thirty years and I have been visually impaired for the past eight years with macular degeneration. I want to reach out and help others like me by letting them know about the Lighthouse of Collier. I started attending their free classes and have been able to maximize my ability to live at home more independently and become more self-sufficient. Through this outreach, I discovered an abundant amount of resources to help me with every-day living. I am so grateful there finally is a place for people like me to get the help I needed so badly to get my life back again. Thank you, Lighthouse of Collier. You were my beacon in the night.”
A Typical But Not-so-Typical Teenager
A typical teenager – youngest of three brothers, rather shy, enjoys English and Math, but he’d rather be fishing, boating or scuba diving. And Jacob is also a not-so-typical-teenager: diagnosed at 6 weeks old with “anirida” or absence of the colored part of the eye (iris), Jacob has vision impairment and extreme sensitivity to light.
In the summer of 2014, Jacob’s parents Cindy & Jim Walker asked him to try Lighthouse of Collier’s Teen Transition Program. This program for visually impaired teens and young adults ages 14-22, provides training skills for daily living, self-advocacy, communication, assistive technology, job-seeking, orientation and mobility, and more. Cindy says “Jacob really didn’t believe he needed any kind of help, but we could see that there were things he needed to learn that Jim and I could not teach him.”
Jacob dutifully attended the action-packed monthly group events and one-on-one meetings (visiting local businesses for career exploration, F.G.C.U. tour, resume building, sailing, partnering with Sole for Hope, a non-profit sending shoes to Uganda, and many other events). Then we asked Jacob to volunteer as a Camp Counsellor with this year’s LOC Summer Camp. Cindy says: “Before camp, Jacob had always been shy and not really speaking to others. It was at the “end of LOC camp gathering” when Jim and I saw a huge difference – Jacob was confident and holding his head high as he moved around the room speaking with other campers and adults too. He’d really ‘come out of his shell’ – we couldn’t have been more happy or more proud!”
Since camp, Cindy says they’ve continued to see a more confident Jacob – and he attends his Teen Transition program meetings with GREAT enthusiasm. Jacob hopes that what he’s learning at Lighthouse of Collier will help him get into college and then find a great job … just like his older brothers. We’re routing for you Jacob!!
18 Year Olds
“Mobility and independence would not be as easy for me today without Lighthouse of Collier. Before I joined, I had no interest in going out in the public or even leaving my house. Thanks to Lighthouse of Collier and devices to help me get around safe, I now have no issues going out.”
When he was 14 years old, Brandon became one of Lighthouse of Collier’s first summer campers. Brandon has just turned 18 and we asked him, and his mom, to share with you how the decision to join Lighthouse of Collier changed his life:
Our son is like a totally different child since he joined Lighthouse of Collier. Prior to joining
Lighthouse of Collier he thought he was the only blind child in all of Collier County and all he could do was sit around the house. Now, you have him playing tennis and teaching other children how to!
Mobility and independence would not be as easy for me today without Lighthouse of Collier.
Before I joined I had no interest in going out in public or even leaving my house. Thanks to Lighthouse of Collier and devices to help me get around safe, I now have no issues going out.
Lighthouse of Collier has shown our son activities in which blind children can participate that we never thought were possible – and it brings our family together too!
Lighthouse of Collier taught me to do things I never thought I could, like play soccer and surf and now I want to teach others they too can do it. I do see myself as a role model at times but I feel more like I just have a large group of friends. I always want to help and don’t want anything in return.