Since 2008, Blind Beginnings Society has envisioned a world where seeing things differently inspires limitless possibilities for BC’s blind and partially sighted children, youth and their families. Through educational and experiential workshops, community outings, pre-employment training, summer camps, recreational activities, individualized counseling, and support groups, Blind Beginnings offers these youth opportunities to develop skills, confidence, and independence.
We recognize the importance to support the entire family of a child or youth that is blind or partially sighted, which is why many of our programs, support groups and events are built to include them as well.
We have a variety of different programs aimed at different age ranges:
- Community Discovery Outings
- Summer Camps and Family Retreats
- Youth Leadership & Pre-Employment Training
- Creating Confidence Workshops
- Early Beginnings Program
- Counseling and Support Groups
Community Discovery Outings
Community Discovery outings were created to provide children who are blind or partially sighted and their families with the time and opportunities for hands-on exploration, which they require in order to learn new concepts in the world or experience a new activity. Children who are blind or partially sighted need a modified learning environment tailored to the way they interact with the world around them. For example, when students are taken on a field trip to a farm, sighted children will instantly recognize a cow, whereas children who are blind or partially sighted need time to touch, smell and hear the cow to develop an image of this animal. Families can also learn techniques on how to make outings more meaningful while at the same time providing families the opportunity to network and provide support for each other. Lastly, it gives the community a chance to interact with blind or partially sighted children or youth and educates them on how to be more inclusive.
Summer Camps & Family Retreats
Children who are blind or partially sighted often have unnecessary limits placed on them by teachers, society and even their own families. As a result, these children can underestimate their own abilities, which directly impacts their self-confidence, independence and physical pursuits.
To support BC’s children who are blind or partially sighted to challenge physical boundaries and build confidence, Blind Beginnings’ Summer Camps offers summer camps for school aged children to get out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves physically and mentally. Their parents also begin to see their child’s true capacities and lift unnecessary limits, allowing their child to develop undiscovered talents, increase independence and lead an active life. Our Annual Summer Camps include Family Adventure Camp (last held in 2019 at Camp Whonnock in Maple Ridge) and Camp Hornby (held at the Tribune Bay Education Centre on Hornby Island).
Our Family Retreats are focused on early intervention and are designed to provide families much needed resources while bringing families together and creating new friendships and bonds and much needed social networks and support systems. These weekend long retreats have historically taken place at various locations in BC, from the Okanagan to Vancouver Island.
Youth Leadership & Pre-employment Training
A first-of-its-kind in BC, the Youth Leadership & Pre-employment Program prepares youth who are blind or partially sighted for their future transition to work and adult life. While the youth build employment and life skills, they also learn to see their true abilities and not be held back by limits set by others. We launched this program in 2010, and since then, it has provided many youth aged 13-19 years with direct training and practical experience in leadership, team building, public speaking, communication, and career planning.
While the youth build employable skills and begin to see their own potential, the community at large also increases understanding about blindness, thus raising expectations and reducing the limits placed on these youth, which contributes to their future success. The objective of this program is to provide youth with transferable skills and volunteer experience that will assist them in their future employment pursuits.
Creating Confidence Workshops
Creating Confidence Workshops were launched in 2009 to help children and youth who are blind or partially sighted build self-confidence, self-acceptance and independence. Over a series of workshop sessions (taking place in person, online and in the community) children of all ages learn to develop skills and confidence. Some of the topics covered are independent living skills, technology usage, how to use and understand body language, facial expressions, gestures, and personal space. They also learn how to prepare their look according to the social situation, how to help others feel at ease with their visual impairment, and how to behave in a variety of social and professional settings. Workshop content is tailored to the age of the participants.
Early Beginnings Program
Often when parents give birth to a child who is blind or partially sighted, they are overwhelmed, unsure, and may feel great loss. Families also feel isolated and uncertain of how to support their child’s development. With our Early Beginnings Program, we strive to help parents with a greater understanding of how to encourage early literacy, language, and mobility for their child with a visual impairment. We teach tips for making family outings more meaningful and accessible and an overview of the services and resources available to their child. We also try to create opportunities to meet and network with other families who are also experiencing visual impairment for the first time.
We also provide Parent Workshops on topics that 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.
Counseling & Family Support
Blind Beginnings offers Support Groups that are aimed for specific age ranges, from children, to teens, to parents. Our goal is to help families network and support each other while at the same time giving all a safe, supportive venue to come together and share lived experiences and resources.
Children, youth and parents can also access one-on-one counseling services with Registered Clinical Counsellors who are blind or partially sighted. As with all Blind Beginnings programs and services, counseling support includes helping the individual overcome barriers to reaching their full potential.
For more information regarding counselling email Shawn Marsolais at email@example.com
We strive to make all our Programs barrier-free environments. If any family or individual has any sort of barrier to participation (eg. mobility, technology needs, language barriers, etc.), please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to accommodate.
To register for any of Blind Beginnings programs and services, or for more information, please contact Shawn Marsolais at email@example.com or call:
Toll free: 866 736 8620
Phone: 604 434 7243