Leon Heights hosts VIP Group for students
Monday, 24 September 2012 by Grayson Edds
The fourth graders of Leon Heights were in for a treat when two representatives from the Vision Impaired Persons who are Very Important People (V.I.P.) group showed up to teach them a valuable life lesson.
For the past seven years, Deanna DeGraaff and her daughter-in-law Jennifer have been speaking with the children of Leon Heights and Dana Jackson's fourth grade class to help them understand that visually impaired people are not so different.
"Changing one kid's mind makes the world of difference because it's not just for the visually impaired, it's for any people with disabilities," Jennifer said. "You treat people the way you want to be treated."
Their presentation included learning about braille and how it is read, written and typed. They brought with them visual aides for the children including a braille cell, storybooks, and a calendar. The showed them a variety of games they can play like cards, dominos, dice and even sports like basketball. They introduced them to the world of technology for the vision impaired by showing the children their audiobooks, laptops, money readers, color readers, light indicators, talking calculators, wristwatches, clocks, and even the iPhone can come equipped with software to navigate through its contents by audio.
Deanna's guide dog, a golden retriever named Sierra, attended the presentation and loved the attention from the kids while they learned about guide dog etiquette.
"She is my eyes for climbing stairs, going through doorways, and using elevators," Deanna said. "She will disobey me if I give her the command to cross a street and there's a car coming and I didn't hear it. She has pulled me out of traffic from being hit by cars."
The DeGraaffs make time to speak with the children whenever the opportunity presents itself, and Jackson is always impressed with the reaction from the children.
"It's really interesting the questions that the kids have," Jackson said. "What I love is Deanna and Jennifer's attitudes; they have a great sense of humor and we always learn a lot. At the end of the year I always ask the children what is one thing I must do next year. They always say that the visually impaired people should come back again. It's always at the top of the list."
The V.I.P. Group is hosing an event Oct. 13 for the public to learn about what's it's like to be visually impaired. The Come Walk In My Shoes event will take place at the Temple Public Library from 1-4 p.m. With activities for children and adults alike, the group offers blindfolds or special glasses and will encourage you to walk with a guide dog, use a cane, learn about braille, discover how it is to eat and drink without sight, and use the latest gadgets designed for the visually impaired, and see what's in store for the future.
For more information, call Deanna DeGraaff at (254) 778-5073.