Hi everyone, Thought you might be interested in this article in the Tallahassee Democrat today (7/29/09). Great job, Summer Transition Program teachers & students! - Barbara July 29, 2009 Visually impaired teens get a lesson in independence Lighthouse of the Big Bend gives youth a chance to showcase talents By TaMaryn Waters DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER Each teen had a story about how he or she became visually impaired or blind. Katelyn Arrington, 19, began losing her sight in 2005. She remembers unbearable headaches. Soon, tests detected too much spinal fluid was collecting on her brain. And that was putting pressure on her retinas. "I cried about it," Arrington said of the pain. Eleven teens listened to each other. In the process, they found they were all bonded by the desire to be more independent. A free eight-week summer program, provided through the Lighthouse of the Big Bend, Guiding People Through Vision Loss, helped them get closer to their dream. The teens learned everyday skills, such as ironing, cooking dishes, getting around through the city's Dial-A-Ride program and using computers. Executive Director Barbara Ross said it was intense since the teens were with her staff five days a week. The agency receives money from the Florida Department of Education's Division of Blind Services, which gives $9,000 per teen. Ross said she's enjoyed watching the teens evolve. To her, she sees potential every time a teen shows excitement about learning. Just last week, the teens hosted their annual fundraising event where they served ice cream at Bruster's Real Ice Cream on Tharpe Street. They staffed the sliding-door windows and greeted customers. Ross said the fund raiser was an example of how the teens are capable of working together and showcasing their talents. "I want them to know they can get a job and be productive like anyone else," Ross said. Arrington, who plans to attend Trinity College in New Port Richey, said she wants to be a youth pastor. She feels more capable than ever to pursue her dream and go away to college thanks to the program. Arrington appreciates the lessons on budgeting and learning how to be more mobile. Despite her visual limitations, she said wants more than anything to be treated with dignity. "I don't want to be babied," Arrington said. "It's a balance in helping and not helping." Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI to unsubscribe send a message, containing a subject line of the word unsubscribe, to tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.