Blind Beginnings Society extends services to the Okanagan

The Society will mark it's arrival with a fall retreat for families

  • Aug. 9, 2018 12:00 a.m.
Maria Zeldis, member at large with her daughter who became blind in her first year at life photo:submitted

Maria Zeldis, member at large with her daughter who became blind in her first year at life photo:submitted

The Blind Beginnings Society, which focuses on building community amongst families with blind babies, toddlers, and children, is expanding to the Okanagan.

The New Westminster based society will be hosting a family focused weekend retreat at a log cabin in November.

“I am excited to have something to offer families in the Okanagan,” Shawn Marsolais, founder of Blind Beginnings said. “I love to bring people together and help them connect. This retreat will help me speak with the families so that I know what they are experiencing and what they need (in the future).”

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The most rewarding part of her work is teaching parents that blindness does not limit a child’s abilities, and that they will live a healthy life. She says most parents think of their child’s blindness as if they lived a life with vision and then lost it suddenly and the world they once knew. However, with their blindness being all that they know, the children do not think of a world with vision, or that they have any inability. They learn of their blindness later in life.

“When the families meet me, being a blind woman, with a career, a husband, a child, they are able to see that blindness does not mean a lonely life, it can be anything. Blindness is limitless.”

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Natural learning sessions happen for the children where they can learn through experiencing what things are instead of being told what something is. All other senses are activated on field trips Marsolais and her team organize.

Blind Beginnings works alongside the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and teachers at local schools to make sure that families can be connected with the information they need in a comfortable setting.

A panel will be held in the evening where parents can listen to youth and adults that are blind speak about the way they navigate the world and their achievements.

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“My favourite part of the retreat is after the panel, when the children are asleep the parents can sit together and connect. That is what this is all about,” Marsolais said. “Supporting parents is so crucial, they have the biggest impact on their children’s lives. If they know there are no limits for their child, their child will grow up thinking there are none.”

The Blind Beginnings retreat will be hosted Nov. 2 to 4, and is focused on families with blind children that are new born until 8 years-old. For more information about registration contact Shawn Marsolais on e-mail shawn@blindbeginnings.ca or call toll-free 1-866-736-8620

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