About Our Programs

Since 2008, Blind Beginnings Society has envisioned a world where seeing things differently inspires limitless possibilities for BC’s blind and partially sighted children. Through educational and experiential workshops, pre-employment training, summer camps, recreational activities and individualized counselling, Blind Beginnings offers these youth opportunities to develop skills, confidence and independence.

A note about out Programs: Because of COVID-19, all of our in-person programming has been placed on hold. For more information on how we have adapted our programming and adjusted in order to provide virtual programs, please visit our Current Programs page.

Our programs are divided into four key program areas:

Youth Leadership & Pre-employment Program

For over ten years, Blind Beginnings has hosted a Youth Leadership Weekend each Spring for teens who are blind or partially sighted. Historically, it has drawn youth 13 – 19 years of age from all across BC to participate in a series of sessions and activities that are designed to build confidence and employment skills in order to prepare them for their future transition to work and adult life.

In 2020 our in-person training weekend had to be canceled because of COVID-19. Instead, we offered a 6-week online training program which was also very successful.

We are excited to offer this training online again in 2021. The sessions will run on six consecutive Thursdays starting on April 1. Each session will focus on a different leadership skill and in order to graduate as a Youth Leader, (which enables the youth to start volunteering on our youth led projects) participants will need to participate in all six sessions.

The sessions are as follows:
Session 1 – April 1 – Introductions/TeamBuilding/What makes a good leader
Session 2 – April 8 – Communication: Empathy and Active Listening
Session 3 – April 15 – Self-advocacy: How to Ask For What You Need
Session 4 – April 22 – Public Speaking and Presentation Skills
Session 5 – April 29 – Professionalism and Attitude
Session 6 – May 6 – Benefits of Volunteering and Youth Leader Opportunities Within Blind
Beginnings

The objective of this program is to provide youth with transferable skills and volunteer experience that will assist them in their future employment pursuits.

Once trained, Youth Leaders will be ready to volunteer in several capacities including:

  • Being a mentor and resource to younger children who are blind or parents raising a child that is blind
  • Providing awareness presentations in their communities
  • Contributing to our limitless Podcast and/or Blog
  • Assisting in the planning of group projects, fundraisers, and special events

Who can attend: Children and youth who are blind or partially sighted 13 – 19 years
When: April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, May 6 from 4:00 – 5:30 PM PST

All participants must be members of Blind Beginnings. You can become a member or renew your membership at https://www.blindbeginnings.ca/support/membership/.

Please note, registration for this program is different from our other programs. To register for the Online Youth Leadership Program, email Shawn Marsolais at: shawn@blindbeginnings.ca and include the following information:

  • Name of participant
  • Date of birth
  • Visual impairment diagnosis
  • Email address to send Zoom links
  • Phone Number

The deadline to register for this program is Monday March 29, 2021. Space is limited and spots will be available on a first come first serve basis.

If you have any questions or require more information, please feel free to contact us at 604-434- 7243 or toll free at 1-866-736-8620. We look forward to welcoming your teen into our Youth Leadership program.

Adventure Camps & Active Lifestyle Program

When most people think about children who are blind or partially sighted, they lower their expectations of what is possible. As a result, these children often grow up underestimating their abilities and not participating in physical activities, directly impacting their health and social connections.

Through our Adventure Camps & Active Lifestyle Program, children who are blind or partially sighted challenge personal limits, develop new skills and increase physical activity. By learning to see their child’s true capacities, parents allow their child to develop undiscovered talents and lead an active life.

Program/
activity
When/where offered Who benefits and how
Family Adventure Camp Every August in varying locations throughout BC over 4 days (on hold) By experiencing outdoor adventure sports, such as kayaking, rock climbing, and swimming, children begin to lift personal boundaries and set higher expectations for themselves. Parents also remove unnecessary limits as they begin to see their child’s true capacities.
Camp Hornby Every July on Hornby Island over 5 days (on hold) Youth have the opportunity to attend camp on their own, or accompanied by their parents. While increasing self-confidence through individual and group activities, they also build friendships.
Do the Grind Blind Challenge Took place in September of 2017 This event offered youth 16-21 the opportunity to challenge themselves physically and mentally. Through participation in pre-event training, youth took their self-confidence to a new level and believe in their own limitless potential. Watch the AMI documentary on this event!
Kootenay Project Adventure Various communities in the Kootenays (on hold) Through experiential learning activities, this project promotes and encourages life-long outdoor activity among children and youth who are blind or partially sighted.

Educational & Experiential Learning Program

Through educational workshops, recreational clubs and community outings, blind and partially sighted children are exposed to skill-building activities and experiences that support cognitive and motor development, communication, independent travel, social networking and career development. While children increase independence and self-esteem, parents access resources to help their child discover and develop their true capacities.

Program/
activity
When/where offered Who benefits and how
Community Discovery Outings Monthly in varying locations throughout Greater Vancouver (in-person on hold. See Current Programs for virtual options ) Through family-focused recreational outings, children are given hands-on learning opportunities that teach them about how beehives work, how to pick a pumpkin, what farmers and firefighters do, and more.
Creating Confidence Workshop Annually at Blind Beginnings Office (in-person on hold. See Current Programs for virtual options ) Through hands-on learning, children learn to develop verbal communication and social skills to build confidence and self-esteem. For older youth, workshop topics address self-image, how to dress and groom oneself, how to disclose blindness at work, and more.
What Happens after Grad Workshop Annually at Blind Beginnings Office (on hold) The goal of this workshop is to help guide youth in their career choices and search for employment. Topics include: career planning, job application preparation, networking, how to convince a prospective employer they can do the job, and more.
Echolocation Workshop Annually at Blind Beginnings Office or rented space in varying communities (on hold) By teaching a sonar-like technique, children and youth learn to navigate their surroundings with greater ease and confidence, thus reducing reliance on sighted guides and increasing independence.
Parent Workshops 3-4 times per year at Blind Beginnings Office (in-person on hold. See Current Programs for virtual options ) Workshop topics address a variety of issues relevant to parenting a child who is blind or partially sighted: braille and early literacy, social skill development, orientation & mobility, daily living skills, sports & recreation, assistive technology, and more. Parents also meet other parents and build an essential network of support.

Early Intervention, CounselLing & Family Support Program

Our Early Intervention, Counselling & Family Support Program offers support groups and individual counseling for children, youth, and parents, as well as early intervention retreats for families with pre-schoolers. Information, resources, and emotional support are provided to families by registered clinical counsellors and by other parents.

Program/
activity
When/where offered Who benefits and how
Early Intervention Retreats 3-4 times per year at varying locations (in-person on hold. See Current Programs for virtual options )

 

Designed for parents new to raising a child who is blind or partially sighted, these weekend retreats offer a comfortable environment to be introduced to the world of blindness. Parents learn important tools and tips to help them support their child to reach developmental milestones.
Seeing Things Differently Parent Support Group Annually for 6 weeks at Blind Beginnings Office (in-person on hold. See Current Programs for virtual options ) As parents transition toward acceptance of their child’s blindness or visual impairment, they are given a safe, supportive environment to be able to express feelings of grief, loss, fear, and hope. It is a place to gain information and understanding while connecting with other parents who have a first-hand understanding of what they are going through. » Learn more
Individualized Counselling As needed at Blind Beginnings Office  (in-person on hold. Contact Shawn Marsolais for virtual options ) Children, youth and parents can access one-on-one counseling services with Registered Clinical Counsellors. As with all Blind Beginnings programs and services, counseling support focuses on helping the child overcome barriers to reaching his/her full potential.

CoNTACT

To register for any of Blind Beginnings programs and services, or for more information, please contact Emily Burkholder at:

Toll free: 866 736 8620
Phone: 604 434 7243
Email: emily@blindbeginnings.ca