[nfbmi-talk] BELL program for brailleRe: Affiliate President Buried Alive by Youth

Donna Posont donnabutterfly50 at gmail.com
Thu Oct 22 20:26:16 CDT 2009

    Hi Fred,  I attended the national conference call about the Bell program 
offered through the Jernigan institute.  It seems like a great cirriculum to 
use for programing at Camp Tuhsmeheta.
It is  over a two week period and a possibility would be to bring in the 
parents for a seminar on the in between weekend. It would substitute for 
previously offered braille camp and the core teacher is already provided. 
Just food for thought. We could use our own volunteers to helpwith the 
programing. Then the camp staff would provide the other support simular to 
what is offered during Quest week. Donna----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Fred Wurtzel" <f.wurtzel at comcast.net>
To: "'NFB of Michigan List'" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 1:41 PM
Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] Affiliate President Buried Alive by Youth

> Hi Terri,
> Great article!  I encourage you to send this into the Braille Monitor for
> possible publication.  Also, great job goes to everyone who helped 
> organize
> the Bridge Walk weekend.
> Warmest Regards,
> Fred
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org]
> On Behalf Of trising
> Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 10:58 AM
> To: NFB of Michigan List
> Subject: [nfbmi-talk] Affiliate President Buried Alive by Youth
> Affiliate President Buried Alive by Youth
>            The NFB of Michigan's No Limits Youth Outreach 2009 Mackinac
> Bridge Walk was an excellent experience. The trip began at 5 A.M. on 
> Friday
> morning, with a long ride up to Munising. Our group consisted of nine 
> 12-18
> year old blind youth, ten blind adult mentors, and five drivers. My 
> husband
> and I are mentors who are totally blind from birth who experienced the 
> trip
> for the first time.
> After the long ride in the car, kids and adults alike were ready for some
> action! We found it on Saturday morning, in the form of a scavenger hunt
> which was designed to promote Braille, and independent mobility. Clues
> involved telling a passerby about Louis Braille and giving out a chocolate
> coin, or navigating a nature trail out to an outcropping of rock in the
> shape of a castle. I do not consider myself a confident traveler, but I 
> was
> the first to find the steps leading from an outlook down to another part 
> of
> the trail.
> One clue, worth 1000 points, required the burial an NFB board member in 
> the
> sand at the beach. Kids and adults alike pitched in and buried Fred 
> Wurtzel.
> Since I do not like the feel of things on my hands, I volunteered to hold
> cell phones and keep them safe from the sand. However, Fred realized he 
> was
> not sufficiently buried in some spots and told us we got no points if we 
> did
> not do better. I handed the phones off to my husband Nick and started
> helping pile sand on top of him. Discovering that I could still feel his 
> arm
> and hand through the sand, I knew that spot needed more work. After a
> complete immersion, our driver had mercy and rescued him.
>            While at the beach, many of us rolled up our pant legs and 
> waded
> into Lake Superior. Several of the kids threw caution to the wind and 
> jumped
> into the lake.
>            Lunch had to be postponed because of a spectacular surprise.
> Larry Posont arranged for us to get on a 2.5 hour Pictured Rocks cruise.
> This unexpected treat made it necessary to leave our pasties in the car 
> and
> hurry onto the boat. We were able to get a Coke and Doritos to hold off 
> our
> hunger until after the cruise. It was worth the wait in order to enjoy the
> feel of the wind on our faces and the sound of the waves. My husband Nick
> and I preferred standing by the rail in the sun and wind rather than 
> sitting
> below decks in our seats.
>            After the cruise, we ate our pasties on the beach. A pastie is 
> a
> regional recipe consisting of a hand held flaky crust, containing meat and
> vegetables, originally prepared for copper and iron miners in the U.P.
> Pasties originated in Cornwall England, and were designed to stay warm for
> long periods even in the cold mines. Several of us had waited long enough,
> and the water beckoned us like a long lost friend! In spite of the fact 
> that
> we were not in bathing suits, and the water was cold, we went for a swim. 
> I
> hate the cold, but love the water. I decided I needed some help. I asked
> several others who have the courage to run, and we joined hands and ran 
> from
> the beach into the water. Upon reaching the water and sand, I was knocked
> off balance and fell into the water. That took care of my reluctance to 
> get
> in with the less than balmy water temperature.
>            Saturday evening culminated with a bonfire that included a hot
> dog roast. I learned how to put a hot dog on a skewer, and balance the
> skewer against the lip of the fire pit so that the meat was over the fire,
> but not in the ash. It takes approximately 2.5 minutes per side to get a
> fully cooked hot dog.
>            Sunday was to have commenced with one of the highlights of the
> trip. We were to go to Laughing White Fish Falls in order to climb them!
> However, when our group leader discovered that climbing the falls was
> illegal, and since the trip was particularly designed for youth, we did 
> not
> go. Instead, we went to Seney Wild Life Refuge. Many went inside to touch
> models of animals. The warm sun irresistibly called me onto the 1.5 mile
> nature trail. At first, I allowed our leader, who has partial vision to 
> lead
> us. I assumed incorrectly that I might not know where to go since I am
> totally blind and have severe spatial concept difficulties. However, Fred
> Wurtzel easily and gently demonstrated that my assumption was incorrect. 
> He
> instructed me to take a few steps right and asked what I found. 
> "Vegetation,
> "I reported. I also found the same thing when asked to take a few steps
> left. To my delight I discovered that I was just as good at leading on a
> nature trail as anyone else. You know quickly when you are venturing off 
> the
> trail because of the plant life under foot. Of course, one can willfully
> venture off the trail. Since we could not climb the falls, I still had my
> heart set on climbing around on some rocks. I thought I felt a rock just 
> off
> the trail with my cane and called everyone's attention to the spot. We let
> Fred Wurtzel be brave and investigate. It turned out that I had not found
> some rocks for adventurous climbing, but a bog! Fred showed us what a bog
> was with his cane. The vegetation grows back over some water on part of a
> lake or marsh. When you try and put your cane in to determine if your next
> step will be wet or dry, your cane gets wet and muddy. Better your cane 
> than
> your only pair of Tennis shoes!
>            As we reached the last third of our hike, we kept getting 
> random
> whiffs of smoke. As we rounded a corner, we heard some minor crackling and
> really smelled smoke. To our surprise, we discovered an unattended small
> forest fire! When Fred Wurtzel used a cell phone to report the fire, the
> wild life refuge staff greeted our news with extreme casualness! It turns
> out that they had set the fire as a controlled burn. We hastened away from
> the smoke and the unattended fire.
>            The final adventurous highlight of the trip, swimming on Lake
> Superior, occurred Sunday afternoon. We were to have swum out to some 
> cliffs
> in order to climb them, and leap off into the lake! Since we did not have
> sufficient time to make the long swim, we settled on a closer adventure. A
> few of us swam to a nearby rock and helped each other to get on top of it.
> This was not particularly easy, since the rock was slanted and slimy.
> Working together, everyone was able to get atop the rock, only to
> intentionally slide back off into the water. The evening culminated with a
> delicious dinner of locally caught fish.
>            Before returning to the Lower Peninsula on Labor Day, we
> participated in the five mile 2009 Mackinac Bridge Walk along with
> approximately forty thousand other individuals.  This was the third bridge
> walk in which the blind youth outreach has participated, not only to have
> fun outdoors, but to   educate the public about the capabilities of blind
> people. Nick and I are fairly fast walkers, and we wanted to be able to
> spread our wings and walk the bridge at a good pace. Once again, I started
> walking the bridge thinking that I needed to be accompanied by someone 
> with
> vision. When our leader realized that she needed to stay with two youth, 
> she
> told us to feel free and go ahead and walk the bridge.  I anxiously asked
> how we would find her at the end. She said stop at the end of the bridge.
> Using our canes, we walked the bridge, independently, and confidently. We
> were so quick; we caught up with three fast walking, partially sighted 
> youth
> and completed the bridge walk together! Next year, Nick and I have agreed 
> to
> chaperone some youth who want to be speedsters on the bridge.
>            The Bridge walk no limits youth outreach confirmed that it does
> not take eye sight to have some real adventure. The National Federation of
> the Blind is changing my beliefs about our capabilities as blind people, 
> and
> also, about my capabilities as a blind individual. I can lead on nature
> trails without seeing, and I can walk suspension bridges without sighted
> guides. I can swim out to rocks. Together, I can be part of a group of 
> blind
> people that assists each other up onto slimy rocks in Lake Superior! My
> husband and I can enjoy a week end with a group of like minded adventurous
> blind people! Who says you have to be with sighted people in order to have
> adventure?
>            According to Fred Wurtzel, "A month later, every time I take my
> shoes off and hear sand fall from my socks from being buried, I smile. I 
> get
> so much energy and inspiration from the kids. Being outdoors in Michigan 
> is
> as good as life gets and sharing it with our NFB brothers and sisters 
> makes
> a great thing even better. My compliments to Melinda Latham, our youth
> coordinator, along with Larry Posont, for organizing a great event."
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