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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

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Three Visually Impaired Students Win Trip to Provence Perfume School

For immediate release

Contact: Terry Allen
(212) 502-7674

NEW YORK—L'Occitane, Inc.—creator and international retailer of prestige personal care products ranging from traditional French soaps to home fragrances, and winner of a 2000 AFB Access Award for placing braille labels on many of its product collections—and the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) will send three visually impaired American students to L'Occitane's perfume school, Provence dans tous les sens (Provence in every sense), in France.

In 1998, L'Occitane created a summer school for blind, partially-sighted, deaf, and partially-deaf boys and girls of all ages. The school's objective is to alert the human senses to the scents, savours, and traditions of Provence; to promote the fragrances and the know-how in the world of perfume of that region; and to serve as a source of information for different professions.

"Provence dans tous les sens, much like the work of AFB, helps the development of these young people's senses and may possibly inspire future careers," said L'Occitane executive vice president, Pierre Moise.

For the second consecutive year, AFB administered an essay contest inviting high school students who are blind or visually impaired to write a 100-word essay on Helen Keller's quote: "The nose is as complex as the eye or the ear and as well equipped for the acquisition of knowledge." The three American students selected will attend a three-day course at Provence dans tous les sens in mid-August 2001. All flights and accommodations for the students are generously funded by L'Occitane. Entries were reviewed by a panel of judges from L'Occitane and AFB. The 2001 essay contest winners are:

  • Cassie R. Lucarelli, 16, West High School, Madison, Wisconsin;
  • Sarah Sykes, 18, who graduated from North Platte High School, North Platte, Nebraska and will be attending Central Bible College, Springfield, MO, in the fall; and
  • Carla Valpeoz, 17, Blanco High School, Blanco, Texas

The three winning essays follow.

The American Foundation for the Blind—the organization to which Helen Keller devoted over 40 years of her life—is a national, nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate the inequities faced by the ten million Americans who are blind or visually impaired. Headquartered in New York City, AFB maintains offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco, and a governmental relations office in Washington, DC.

Cassie R. Lucarelli

Cassie Lucarelli
"The power and complexity of the nose is terribly underestimated. More often than not, smells trigger memories which are more vivid than when triggered by sounds or even sights. For me, the memories can sometimes be so vivid that they practically transport me to where I was. For example, the scent of a certain type of cologne or perfume can immediately cause me to think of a friend who wears that same scent and the last time I was with them. Both the mental alertness and emotional immediacy that occur are unlike the immediacy or alertness provoked by any of the other senses that I have."

Sarah Sykes

Sarah Sykes
"On a gentle evening the sweetly distinctive aroma of lilac drifts aimlessly about. The wind dances with enthusiasm as life returns after a lonely winter. The grass gives essences of growth and vitality. Spring has come. There is a great wealth gained by noticing the scents embroidered throughout nature. In this scene, all conclusions are based solely on the sense of smell. Helen Keller said, 'the nose is as complex as the eye or the ear, and as well equipped for the acquisition of knowledge.' What is learned from one simple sensation contains volumes of information about a unique world."

Carla Valpeoz

Carla Valpeoz
"My nose, during the opening season of spring, on a Sunday morning, awakens my soul. As I run barefoot through a meadow of wild, blooming flowers, my nostrils widen with anticipation. The comforting, warm air entices the pollen of the graceful flowers and fills the meadow with a magnificent scent. I lie on the ground, close my eyes, and block the sounds around me. Engulfing the winds about me, I sense the grazing of animals nearby. Smoking barbecue grills interrupt the serenity of my place in the meadow. I open my eyes and am suddenly tantalized by a salty ocean breeze from the west that energizes my soul and gracefully places a smile again on my face."


July 2001

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