May 5th, 2020 is #GivingTuesdayNow, which has been organized as an opportunity for people all over the world to generously donate to organizations in their communities and stand together, connect, and heal. It is a global day of action to help bring about unity and address the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.
COVID-19 initially struck Blind Beginnings very hard. Many of our programs involve groups of children, youth, and families meeting in-person for the opportunity to experience hands on learning, and to create a network of support. Our programs allowed the youth to participate in a broad range of activities that were designed to inspire confidence, build a multitude of skills, and build connections with their peers. COVID-19 changed all that; we were unable to continue many of those programs due to social distancing restrictions.
Being stuck at home during COVID-19 with all regular programs cancelled and no end in sight, feels overwhelming for all of us. For most youth who are blind or partially sighted, they are the only person in their family, school, and community who is living with a visual impairment, which makes this experience feel even more isolating. That’s why it was vital for us to respond to the crisis with new online programs that would allow us to engage with our youth and their families and give them the support and connection they need now more than ever.
Our team scrambled and in very short order created a series of online programs that currently run 6 days a week. These programs provide opportunities for youth that are blind or partially sighted and their families from across BC to participate and connect with each other remotely. These include:
- Meet a Youth Mondays
- Seeing Things Differently Youth Support Groups
- What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up Wednesdays
- It’s Accessible Story Time
- Virtual Parent’s Night Out – a Parent Support Group
- Fitness Fridays
- Baby Beginnings Online
The response to these programs has been very positive. Kolby, who has been an active participant in several of the new online programs, told us:
“I have enjoyed the Zoom programs in keeping my mental health well-balanced. I have found being isolated incredibly lonely, especially since I live outside of the Lower Mainland, so being able to participate from afar has allowed me to take part. The Blind Beginnings programs such as Fitness Fridays and the Tuesday Support Group have been essential for me in these crazy and changing times.”
Like many organizations, we are constantly evolving our programs and trying to respond to the needs of our youth and their families. By creating new online programs and converting what we can to an online offering we are evolving along with this unprecedented crisis to create a new series of programs that allow us to continue to engage, support, and provide a social outlet for young people throughout BC.
Blind Beginnings will be participating in #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5th, 2020 with our goal to raise $2000. Please consider helping us help youth who are blind or partially sighted in BC through these difficult times. For more information on our campaign or to Donate Now, click on the button below!