I was delighted to join the staff at the Atlanta Center for the Visually Impaired BEGIN Program (Babies Early Growth Intervention Network) for their infants and toddlers holiday program last Saturday. We sang songs, ate way too many cookies, and I was honored to don the big guy’s red suit (the beard is my own!). Each child had the opportunity to have their photos taken with Santa. Children this young and some with additional disabilities often do not receive a friendly welcome at many of the commercial locations where Santa sets up shop during the holiday season so I was excited to be asked by the BEGIN staff to be their Santa. It was my pleasure to work with the children, the parents and the families to make sure they had the opportunity for a photo with Santa. Generous supporters of the BEGIN Program had donated stuffed bears for each child and any siblings who also wanted to participate.
We would like to extend a huge thank you to the teachers and staff who work so hard to create an atmosphere of acceptance and learning for the little ones and their families. AFB is proud to support professionals in the blindness field through our eLearning offerings (many of which are free, and are a great way to earn continuing education credits), the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, new AFB Press publications like Beginning with Braille, Making Life More Livable, and Reading Connections, and events like the upcoming AFB Leadership Conference.
AFB provides the resources but it is the teachers, vision rehabilitation therapists, orientation and mobility instructors, and so many other hard-working professionals who put that information into practice every day, helping children learn how to read braille, seniors adapt their homes, workers keep their jobs, injured soldiers learn to use assistive technology, and so much more.
For those of you who may be experiencing vision loss, or have a family member coping with a new diagnosis, we hope you will explore the AFB Directory of Services to get connected with an agency in your own area. Or download the free, accessible VisionConnect app, and you’ll have the same information in your pocket at all times.
Happy holidays, everybody!
P.S. Maybe I can turn this into a second career when I retire from AFB.