Blind Beginnings, a charitable organization dedicated to helping children and youth who are blind or partially sighted live a life without limits, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
Blind Beginnings was founded in 2008 by Executive Director Shawn Marsolais who is blind. She has competed in the Paralympic Games, earned a Master’s Degree, qualified as a registered clinical counsellor and is the mother of a young child.
Since its founding, Blind Beginnings has helped hundreds of children and youth who are blind or partially sighted take steps towards achieving their dreams by offering them educational and experiential workshops, summer camps, recreational activities, pre-employment training and individualized counselling. Blind Beginnings also supports and equips parents to help their children achieve their full potential.
Winnie Lee, the mother of 11-year-old Alethea says, “Blind Beginnings has been an amazing part of our lives. Being able to connect with other families who have a child with a visual impairment, as well as people who have a visual impairment themselves, has been an invaluable source of help, support and encouragement. It has also been an opportunity for Alethea to build connections and friendships with other children who are visually impaired. She has always been the only child who is blind at her school and this can sometimes be a challenge in trying to build genuine friendships. As a family, we have enjoyed many of the programs provided by Blind Beginnings, such as Junior Explorers Club and Community Discovery Program. Because of Blind Beginnings, we have incredible memories, such as exploring and riding on a hover craft, visiting the Coast Guard, doing a flash mob at the Metrotown mall and participating in the summer family adventure camps. Blind Beginnings is a unique organization.”
Wendy Wei, the mother of 14-year-old Ella tells a similar story: “We witnessed how Blind Beginnings started and developed in the past 10 years. My daughter has grown from a preschooler to a teenager. Blind Beginnings gives us the opportunity to meet others who are blind or visually impaired so we don’t feel alone. It also gives us the opportunity to learn the most effective ways of living with blindness.”
Becky Warner, the mother of 11-year-old Bridget says, “Blind Beginnings has meant that we are not alone. My daughter has friends that share the same experiences, good and bad. If we didn’t have Blind Beginnings, she would most likely never have met other kids who are blind. For me, it’s nice to have other moms who have experienced raising a girl who can’t see. There are certain situations parents with sighted kids just don’t get. We can share the smiles and the tears. And it’s nice to meet the older kids and see that, yes, my kid can grow up to be just a regular adult.”
“While we have had an amazing first 10 years”, Ms. Marsolais said, “we have only been able to raise sufficient funding to offer our programs and services to children and youth living in or near the Lower Mainland. Looking to the future, Blind Beginnings is determined to reach out to every child and youth who is blind or partially sighted no matter where they live in the province.”
Blind Beginnings programs and services are funded by grants from corporations, foundations and government, plus hundreds of individual donors. Donations can be made by phone (604-434-7243 or 1-866-736-8620 toll free) or through this website by clicking here.