Future Reflections Winter/Spring 1998, Vol. 17 No. 1


NOPBC Sports and Recreation Network
by Barbara Cheadle

As spring glides into summer on increasingly warm breezes and longer daylight hours, out come the shorts, t-shirts, sports equipment, camping gear, and vacation brochures. Sadly, however, too many blind kids are not fully included into all the wonderful sports and recreation possibilities so abundant in the summer months. The most persistent myth about blindness is that blind people are necessarily slow, clumsy, and incapable of very much physical activity. The old adage "You get what you expect" is so true. Blind kids are not expected to run, jump, throw a ball, bike, or swim with any competency much less grace or skill. So, lacking opportunity and basic skills—they don't.

Recognizing this problem, Crystal McClain, President of the Ohio Parents of Blind Children, a Division of the NFB of Ohio, conducted a Sports and Recreation survey last year. She used the information to educate parents in her state about the many ways blind kids can be involved in sports and physical activities. Crystal has now volunteered to expand her efforts nationwide. She will chair the newly-formed NOPBC Sports and Recreation Network.

The goal of the network will be to encourage and inspire blind children and youth to become more active in sports and recreation. Data gathered from the NOPBC Sports and Recreation Survey will help Crystal get started on this task. She will use the information from returned surveys to help parents and kids network with each other, and to otherwise inform parents about the many sports and recreational activities blind kids can enjoy, if given the training and the opportunity.

Please consider being a part of the Sports and Recreation networking effort by filling out and returning the survey on the next page.

The following profiles were developed from the survey Crystal did last year. She put these profiles, along with pictures, on a display board which was set out for parents to view at a variety of functions and gatherings.

Jennica Ferguson

Swimming—this is your activity!

Jennica Ferguson is a 14-year-old girl who is a home-schooled 9th grader. Jennica started swimming at the age of 1-1/2 years through a Parent and Tot swim session. Jennica took private lessons and small class lessons till age 4. She started taking lessons at the public school at age 5. She says she uses no special adaptive devices, but she does swim along the wall or the rope to keep her orientation in the pool. Jennica doesn't compete in swimming races, she just swims for the fun of it! Her advice to other blind kids about swimming or any activity is "Just Do It!" Jennica doesn't let blindness prevent her from having fun at the pool! Good luck from your friends in the NFB of Ohio.

Thomas Solich

Wrestling—this is your sport!

Thomas Solich is a 12-year-old boy in the 7th grade at Howland Middle School. Thomas found out about wrestling through some friends. Thomas won first place in December 1995 in a tournament in Canfield. He won 3rd and 5th place in tournaments in Austintown in 1995 and 1996. There is only one adaptation needed due to Thomas's blindness. If Thomas breaks total contact with his opponent, the referee blows the whistle, and they begin again with hand contact.

Thomas enjoys being on the team and likes his coaches. His advice to other blind kids is that wrestling is a great way to have fun, get plenty of exercise, and socialize. It also allows you to be part of a team, yet compete individually. Thomas is a fine example of what blind kids can accomplish. Congratulations from the NFB of Ohio to Thomas Solich for being an example of an independent young blind person who doesn't let blindness hold him back. Good luck in your future wrestling meets and whatever you choose to do.

Michael Monica

Music—this is your activity!

Michael Monica is a 15-year-old legally blind boy. He acquired a love for music after his grandfather bought him a set of drums. Michael likes to sing, play the drums, and write his own songs. This activity has required no special adaptations due to Michael's blindness. Michael has sung twice with Don Ho in Hawaii. He has been in talent shows and also has been the karaoke singer of the week on a cruise. Michael says music requires a lot of hard work and practice, but it's worth it! You get to meet lots of people and Michael likes to be singing live on stage! Michael is a good example to other blind kids of how blind kids can have fun, be involved in an activity, and succeed. The NFB of Ohio wishes Michael the best of luck with his music in the future. But for now--just have fun!

Macy McClain

Gymnastics—this is your sport!

Macy McClain is a kindergarten student at Pine Avenue Elementary in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Macy has participated in gymnastics since age 4-1/2. She is totally blind. Macy became interested in gymnastics through her older sister Brianne. Brianne took gymnastics for nine years, was a cheerleader, and has her own trampoline. Macy discovered the trampoline and loved it. The adaptation Macy uses is an aide who shows her physically what the instructor is showing the other kids. Macy has the exercise routine for tumbling down to where she doesn't need the aide. Macy has never competed in any contests but likes performing for audiences when the gymnastic school puts on performances. She also likes going to the gymnastics school's skating parties and participating in parades with the school. Right now, she likes gymnastics because it's fun. Macy hopes someday to be a cheerleader. Congratulations and continue to have fun, Macy! You are headed down the right path to becoming an independent adult.

Image of Macy on the trampoline
Macy on the trampoline with dad,
Mark, and twin sister, Madison.