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Blind and low vision youth experience new technology and adventure at a special camp

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  Twelve youth from the four state area are spending a week at Wild, Wild West themed camp.

     But this one is a little different. Despite the theme title, the students are tapping into serious technology at Trek Tech camp held at the Greenbush Education Service center that could change their lives.

Seventeen year old Joseph Myers from Kingston High School in Arkansas,   jets up a pole preparing to take the ‘leap of faith.’  You wouldn't know that he can barely see the trapeze bar he'll jump at and grab.

Joe explains, "I have a genetic disorder that has destroyed by center vision.  It’s taken, I’m pretty sure, about forty percent of my vision.”

Mia Perry, a rising 6th grader in Frontenac Schools, is completely blind, but  she and others are learning how to access the world with refreshable braille displays.

Mia says,  "I don’t have an i-phone yet but I do have an i-pad and I’ve learned how to blue tooth it to that.  And it works for games so you can read a game script.” If you use the voice, I think it’s  kind of cheating cause you're not really reading anything."

Calvin Churchwell of Midwest Vision and Technology in Joplin is the camp director. He says it levels the playing field.  "They can read braille along with whatever's coming up on a computer screen. Then they take that back to school and they're showing their friends I can do what you can do." 

Joe says of technology,  "The zoom capability is a life saver.

I could do absolutely nothing on either of my devices if I  did not have it." 

Now it wouldn't be camp without some outdoor adventure. And the students took part in the high ropes course benefiting them with more than a little risk taking.

Joe says,  "It gives you confidence about what you have done and what you can do. And not knowing what you are able to do and capable of, and finding out what you can do through that."

Joe and Mia took turns demonstrating the leap of faith which requires climbing a half telephone pole then jumping toward a trapeze bar.

Joe joked, "It might be a little more frightening for someone who can see it.”  

So, they convinced me to try the zip line.  Something they've already done and know is a way of facing fears.

For Mia pushing the limits came with walking single boards dangling from ropes, called the pacific rim.

She says, “It was a fun and shocking experience at the same time."

 All exhilarating ways to overcome challenges like living with limited sight.

  Churchwell says there are grant funds available for much of the technology being used by the students.

     He says he can with that.

    You can contact him at the, "Midwest Low Vision  and Technology Center." That’s located at 407 South Pennsylvania in Joplin. Or call

417.850.1578

Find a link to its website here. click here

 blazingcanes@gmail.com <mailto:blazingcanes@gmail.com> - www.mwvision.org <http://www.mwvision.org>

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