Eyes for Others


 


Agency Partner: Envision
Funding: $5,700
Committee members: 6

Summary: Providing technology and opportunity for children to read audio books for their visually impaired peers. JLW will implement a mobile classroom to expand current program.

One of this year’s Junior League of Wichita projects, Eyes for Others, has brought a positive change to two populations of Wichita children: those who are visually impaired and those who want to make a difference in others’ lives.

Eyes for Others was first founded in 2002 by a third grade teacher at the Wichita Collegiate School, who was a room parent, and an employee of Envision. Envision is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the personal independence of people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, rehabilitation and other services. The project involved the Collegiate students reading books on tape that were then utilized by the visually impaired children who receive Envision’s services. The program has grown since 2002 within Collegiate, eventually including middle school students.

The Junior League’s Eyes for Others committee consisted of Tracey Andrist, Casey Barbour, Julie Hertzler, Mindy Olson, Sustaining Advisor Lisa McPherson and Chair Amy Cox. The committee’s goal was to take this already successful program and expand it into other area schools as well as to increase the size of the Eyes for Others library at Envision headquarters. This involved promoting the program through a teacher open house, purchasing new digital recorders to equip several new mobile classrooms and greatly multiplying the inventory of books available to program participants. The Eyes for Others committee has provided support for the Collegiate faculty as needed, including supporting the expansion of the program into the high school. A special event, “Eyes for Others For a Day,” was conducted in April to provide Junior League members with the opportunity to involve the children in their lives in the program. League members brought their children, nieces, nephews, Sunday school classes, and Girl Scout troops for a day of reading, recording, and learning what it is like to be visually impaired.

Eyes for Others is a unique project because of the opportunities for change it provides for both the children reading and the children who utilize the recordings. The child volunteers gain an awareness and understanding of what it is like to live with visual impairment. As one Collegiate middle school student said, “Thanks for teaching us about visually impaired people and Envision. I feel that I understand some about what it is like to be visually limited.”

These children are also able, at a young age, to give back to their community in a meaningful way. Reading aloud is also a proven way to improve young reader’s abilities. One Collegiate reader said, “I love reading books on tape for visually-impaired kids. It makes me feel good to know that I am making a difference for other kids. And, I think that my reading is getting better too!”

The other opportunity for change comes to the children who utilize the recordings and the Eyes for Others library.

The program has not only greatly expanded the available recordings for them to listen to but it has also boosted their self-esteem as they realize the time and effort given by the child readers. Savannah, a visually impaired child who utilizes the Eyes for Others library, says, “I love listening to the books that the students record for us. It is fun to hear them read and it makes me a better reader too. I feel so good to know that kids my age will do this for me.”

As the Junior League’s involvement in the project comes to an end, it is anticipated the Eyes for Others program will have expanded significantly into the Wichita community.

The program currently is active in approximately eight area schools, as well as a home school organization. It is estimated that approximately seventeen classrooms of children – aged third grade through high school – will have participated in the program this year. The Eyes for Others expansion has brought many positive opportunities for all involved.
         

 
Wichita Collegiate School students experience what it is like to be visually impaired as part of the Eyes for Others program, which kicked off at the school in September.
Junior League of Wichita members and the children in their lives made a difference on April 4, 2009 during “Eyes 4 Others for a Day.” The volunteers recorded 142 books in a single day, making a significant contribution to Envisions Eyes 4 Others library.
Envision's Bonnie Cochran provides an overview of what it is like to be visually impaired to a group of child volunteers at Junior League of Wichita's “Eyes 4 Others for a Day”, held on April 4, 2009 at Envision.
Junior League of Wichita members and the children in their lives made a difference on April 4, 2009 during “Eyes 4 Others for a Day.” The volunteers recorded 142 books in a single day, making a significant contribution to Envisions Eyes 4 Others library.
 

Junior League of Wichita

6402 East 12th Street
Wichita, Kansas 67206-1306
Phone: 316.682.7473