[blindkid] Franklin Regional junior in 5-day science program for visually impaired youth - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
carol_castellano at verizon.net
Fri Sep 30 19:09:04 UTC 2011
Nice article. Thanks for posting!
Director of Programs
National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
carol_castellano at verizon.net
At 02:21 PM 9/26/2011, you wrote:
>Franklin Regional junior in 5-day science program for visually impaired youth
>Tommy Brown has been fascinated by cars and how
>they work since he was a toddler.
>"When I was young, I loved to play with cars,"
>said Brown, 16, of Murrysville. "For a while,
>I've been interested in the building aspect."
>With that in mind, the visually impaired
>teenager is working toward his dream of becoming
>an engineer, taking another step when he enrolled in Youth Slam in the summer.
>"Mentors for (Youth Slam) are blind, visually
>impaired," Brown said. "I talked to them to see
>what they do, how they do it and what equipment
>they use ... to help me do a similar job."
>Youth Slam is a five-day STEM science,
>technology, engineering and math academy held
>every two years for 150 visually impaired teens
>from across the country with "successfully
>blind" adults serving as mentors. The program,
>held at Towson University in Maryland, is
>sponsored by the nonprofit National Federation of the Blind.
>"We found in many cases, blind or visually
>impaired students are being steered away from
>the STEM subjects," said Jim Antonacci,
>president of the National Federation of the
>Blind of Pennsylvania. "This made it a whole lot easier for them."
>Brown, a junior at Franklin Regional High
>School, enrolled in the engineering track at
>Youth Slam. He worked on such projects as
>building models of bridges using Popsicle sticks
>to see how much weight they could hold, and
>helping build a track to move a hovercraft. He
>was a passenger in the Blind Driver Challenge
>Car, which makes use of nonvisual technology.
>He hasn't decided what type of engineering he
>wants to study in college possibly civil but
>he knows it's his career choice.
>Brown is legally blind from neurofibromatosis, a
>genetic condition in which tumors grow on nerve
>endings, including the optic nerve. Typically,
>the tumors stop growing around age 8. For Brown,
>whose tumors were discovered when he was 2, they
>did not, and he lost most of his sight as a second-grader.
>"It was different. I started using some
>magnifiers and learned to use a long cane,"
>Brown said. "At the time, I guess I was all
>right with it. Obviously, I was upset I was losing my sight."
>The loss has not hampered his active lifestyle.
>Brown plays cymbals in Franklin Regional's
>marching band, participates in Boy Scouts,
>serves on student council and plays goal ball, a
>sport similar to soccer that's played by
>visually impaired athletes with a ball equipped with bells.
>Philip Brown, Tom's father, is not surprised by
>what his son has accomplished and has faith in
>what he can accomplish in the future.
>"He's always been interested in how things
>worked," his dad said. "That, I guess, is where
>the engineering is coming in. He never says, 'I
>can't do it.' He always wants to try it or adapt."
>Brown uses a cane to get around and reads
>Braille, including his sheet music for the band.
>He accesses a computer with screen reader
>software Jaws and ZoomText, a screen magnification program.
>He recommends that anyone with vision challenges
>become involved with the National Federation of the Blind.
>Antonacci said the organization stresses to
>blind and visually impaired individuals how important they are.
>"Our philosophy is it's respectable to be blind.
>It's OK to be blind. All a blind person is is a
>person who does things differently," Antonacci
>said. "We not only tell them they can do it; we prove to them they can."
>Brown has a message for anyone with visual impairment:
>"You can do anything," he said. "If there's
>something you want to do, go for it."
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