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Opening Eyes: First Graders Experience Simulated Visual Impairment

The first graders at John Thomas Dye School experienced Low Vision on May 13th thanks to a 12-year partnership with Partners for Pediatric Vision (PPV). PPV comes to the campus of the school to provide a Low Vision Experience as part of the 1st grade service-learning curriculum. Simulated masks are made for each child to wear that represent a variety of visual conditions such as central or peripheral vision field loss, blind spots or blurred vision. When the children wear their masks, they go from fully sighted to partially sighted and must navigate five Low Vision stations with tunnel vision or visual field loss, blurred or reduced vision.

At the “Eye-Mazing” station, students learned from a Pediatric Optometrist what happens at a low vision exam. At “ Be My Guide” they met Pam and Teri and their working guide dogs Franklin and Kettle who help. them travel safely around any environment. Students hear all about why and how children and adults use a white cane and learn sighted guide techniques while “On the Move.” “Technology is Terrific” is where the first graders learn about electronic video magnification and low vision technology that helps children with visual impairment access print and text to speech software in order to succeed in school. Our two terrific volunteers Judy and Jane assisted each first grader in making a stuffed tactile teddy bear to be donated to the babies and children who receive services from Partners for Pediatric Vision.

The first graders receive a valuable hands-on experience about how visual impairment affects others. By the end of their experience they understand how specialized vision care, education and support like that provided by Partners for Pediatric Vision can help children overcome the challenges of vision loss. The families of the first graders contribute funds toward the purchase of glasses and low vision devices that are donated to our children and families who cannot afford them. The collaboration between Partners for Pediatric Vision and John Thomas Dye School is an example of how philanthropy changes lives and strengthens community awareness to benefit those in need.

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