Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An organization threw a party for visually impaired kids

Continuing a tradition that extends back longer than three decades, a dozen children gathered for a Christmas party Thursday at Inland Empire Lighthouse for the Blind.

"It's gone on for years," Executive Director Robert G. McBay said. "I've been here for 33 years. ... It's been here since then."

The Lighthouse usually serves blind or visually impaired adults who can receive free classes at the San Bernardino site. Lighthouse students are those who cannot see at all or whose visual impairments are severe enough for them to be considered legally blind.

The children who took part in Thursday's events also live with a range of eyesight issues, said teacher Lynn Worch, who noted that the youngsters start anticipating the next Lighthouse party about as soon as one ends.

Adults and children from San Bernardino City Unified School District schools attended Thursday's party. The Rialto Nostalgia Singers serenaded the gathering with carols.

Lighthouse student Jasmine Kotsay, 19, also stepped up to the microphone. Blind from birth, Kotsay takes arts-and-crafts classes at Lighthouse and also studies at San Bernardino Valley College in preparation for a career as a special-education teacher.

Kotsay sang a French rendition of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," or as they say in France, "La Petit Renne Au Nez Rouge."

Before the party began, Kotsay showed the macrame wreath and candy canes she crafted at Lighthouse.

"Now I have something to leave under the tree for my grandma," she said.

The singers were well-received, but the arrival of Santa Claus was the event that really energized the elementary school-aged children.

Santa passed out gift baskets filled with stuffed animals. Dakota Creese, 9, received a basket that included a crimson teddy bear and parrot key chain.

Lighthouse leaders need to find a new facility in the near future. The school sits near Eighth Street and Sierra Way, but school officials are buying up real estate in that area in preparation of building a new elementary school.

McBay said he and Lighthouse's board of directors haven't chosen where to set up shop next.
"We'll stay in the city, and I've got a few ideas of what I want to do, but I'm not there yet," he said.

andrew.edwards@ inlandnewspapers.com

(909) 386-3921


Post a Comment

<< Home