[tabi] Re: 2 articles & videos: Lighthouse of the Big Bend Transition Students Swim with Dolphins yesterday!

  • From: "Barbara Lineberry" <bkblpp@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2010 00:02:31 -0400

Hi Barbara,

I enjoyed reading about and watching the videos of your trip to Gulf World.  
I've been there before and have seen the dolphin shows there and other places 
like Sea World.  I would have loved the chance to interact with dolphins, but 
they always picked little children to come and be "kissed".  And it always cost 
way too much for me to arrange a visit in the water.  I'm glad your transition 
students got to experience this.  They received a great gift.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Lighthouse of the Big Bend 
  To: tabi ; fcb-l ; nfb-announce-request@xxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2010 5:04 PM
  Subject: [tabi] 2 articles & videos: Lighthouse of the Big Bend Transition 
Students Swim with Dolphins yesterday!

  Hi everyone! 
  Thought you might be interested - the Lighthouse of the Big Bend Summer 
Transition Students were able to experience swimming with dolphins yesterday as 
a part of their end-of-the-year trip. Very fun to watch them interact with 
these amazing creatures : ) Articles are below, and click on the links to see 
the videos. Enjoy! - Barbara

  Visually impaired kids get a chance to swim with dolphins 

  August 03, 2010 06:17:00 AM
  KATHERINE CONCEPCION / News Herald Writer 

  PANAMA CITY BEACH — A group of visually-impaired teenagers got the unique 
opportunity to swim with a dolphin at Gulf World Marine Park on Monday.

  Breonna Willis, 17, and Chance Jackson, 14, two of the 13 person group and 
both Tallahassee residents said being up close to a dolphin was a new 
experience for them.

  “At first I was scared, but you never get a chance to [swim with them] so I 
got over my fear and I’m glad I did,” said Willis, who wants to major in 
psychology and become a therapist.

  Jackson, who aspires to be a business entrepreneur, has gotten a lot of 
useful experience by participating in a high school transition summer program 
at the Lighthouse of the Big Bend. Big Bend brought the group to Gulf World.

  “We learn different skills like how to budget money, learning about different 
jobs, how to dress appropriately,” he said.

  Jackson was born with optic nerve hypoplasia, is unable to see out of his 
left eye and has minimal sight in his right eye. He related his experiences 
with visual impairment to those of a dolphin using echolocation to maneuver 
through water. “People with visual impairments can have a heightened sense of 
everything else, so we can have an idea of how it is for them to not have a 
sense that we don’t have either, so we have to adapt and they have adapted 
too,” he said.

  The participants were happy about bonding with each other during the last 
week of the summer program.

  “When we’re in a big group like this we’ve got to learn how to get along, 
said Willis. “We do bump heads, but we’re like a big family.”

  Lighthouse of the Big Bend, a nonprofit agency which provides free outreach 
and group services to legally blind individuals residing in one of the eleven 
Big Bend counties which includes Franklin, Gadsden and Liberty counties. All 
participants in the high school program are between the ages of 14-20.

  “We have a large variety of students we serve,” said Amanda Bernath, teacher 
of the visually impaired at the Lighthouse of the Big Bend.

  Bernath, who is proficient in Braille, was inspired to pursue teaching the 
visually impaired by chance during her college career. “I decided to do 
elementary education as my major and the school sent different representatives 
to our education learning dorm, one of them Brailled our names.”

  The chance to swim with dolphins during the last week of the summer program 
was a reward for the hardest working students. “They worked to get points and 
develop different daily living skills or assisted technology skills,” said 
Bernath. “They worked hard for this.”

  Although Gulf World offers a daily reservation-only opportunity to swim with 
dolphins, this was the first time they had hosted an event for a nonprofit 
benefiting individuals with special needs.

  Pam George, marketing director for Gulf World said the experience may lead to 
reaching out to other organizations for future events.

  “The group is wonderful,” said George. “What do you do if you lose your 
vision? It’s a panic, so I can totally understand why you would need a support 
group like this.”

  For more information about the Lighthouse of the Big Bend, visit 


  Gulf World Hosts Visually Impaired Students 
  08/02/10 - 09:14 PM 

  Bay County, Fla: 

  Gulf World hosts several opportunities to swim with dolphins, but a special 
group of blind and visually impaired students got the experience of a lifetime 

  The group is Lighthouse of the Big Bend, a non-profit organization from 
Tallahassee. The group works with special needs children through age 20 to 
provide life skills. For many of those students today, meeting dolphins 
face-to-face was the chance of a lifetime.

  Swimming with dolphins isn’t an experience many enjoy during the course of a 
lifetime.  That’s why this group of visually impaired and blind students out of 
Tallahassee are soaking up every detail.

  One of the directors, Amanda Bernath, describes the group chosen to attend, 
“This is our transition group. We’re ages 14-20 so they’re transitioning from 
high school to the next phase in life whether it’s college or career.”

  Bernath says that the field trip to Gulf World to swim with the dolphins has 
a specific purpose. 

  “I am so thrilled for these students. It really is once-in-a-lifetime for 
them, unparalleled concept development that they were able to experience.  Such 
a large mammal in front of them. They got to touch the belly, touch the back, 
touch the fins…how powerful they were with the swim. That’s not something that 
you can describe accurately in words.”

  Students with the group stood amazed as they got to interact with the 
dolphins. One student, Michael Fleming, describes his experience, “my favorite 
part was swimming with her and touching her…to feel how it is to feel a 

  Fleming says the experience was more than he could have imagined after 
learning about dolphins in a classroom.  “I think it was pretty awesome because 
I learned more today than what we actually learned at lighthouse…stuff that I 
never knew about dolphins.”

  The group will return to Tallahassee on Thursday with a new learning 
experience and plenty of memories. They’d like to thank Gulf World for hosting 
them today.

  Lighthouse of the Big Bend
  “Guiding People Through Vision Loss”

  3071 Highland Oaks Terrace
  Tallahassee, FL 32301

  (850) 942-3658 x 201
  Fax: (850) 943-4518


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