It may look like any Pre-K program and that’s the idea, but this classroom at the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind is breaking new ground.
The center has launched a pilot program this year which schools students on the value of inclusion. The center has a classroom which includes visually impaired children, learning alongside their sighted classmates.
Miami Lighthouse worked with Miami-Dade Public Schools to help visually impaired students prepare for mainstream public school. “By the children beginning now with daily Braille skills they should be good Braille readers,” said Virginia Jacko, who works at Miami Lighthouse.
In addition to Braille, the blind kids get a boost in confidence.
Monique Reid’s son, who is visually impaired, has been attending the class. She says the program has helped him to feel accepted and one with the other kids. “I think that he’ll notice at some point that his vision is not as good as everyone else. But, because he sees himself as great, when he sees someone else with a disability, he’ll accept them,” said Reid.
The students use a modified version of high-scope curriculum which prepares them for kindergarten and gets them ready to interact with people who may be different from them.
Annie Larosa’s son is not visually impaired. She says the program will allow him to know that people with disabilities may need extra help but should be treated equally. “They’re no less or no greater than you,” said Larosa.
Kids in the program will take that spirit of acceptance and tolerance with them for years to come.