We have expanded our vision to support children with visual impairments in China, not just orphans, but also children who still have parents. Bethel has found that that the parents of visually impaired children are often isolated, feel alone and don’t have the resources to teach their children how to grow and learn and live life to the fullest.
During the last week of June, Bethel’s Project 555 held a workshop on how to care for and educate young children with visual impairments. Over 20 parents (and grandparents) who have young children with blindness, 10 participants came from orphanages, foster homes and schools attended the week of training workshops.
We were happy to welcome many parents and grandparents to the training so that they could become better equipped to meet their children’s needs. In China there are special schools for children with blindness who are of primary school age and above, but it is difficult to find a pre-school or kindergarten. Bethel hopes to fill in the gap by providing training and other resources to parents. By the end of the week, everyone on the team had got to know one another. Having a community of people in the same situation helps everyone realise that they are not alone.
The workshop covered many topics, including early childhood development, low vision, braille, fine motor skills, self-help skills and sensory integration. 8 of Bethel's teachers from our school taught the classes.
During the workshop week, participants were taught how to guide a person who is blind, how to use an adaptive mobility device, and how to use a white cane. They were blindfolded to try all of these skills. By having these experiences with the blindfold, participants will be better able to help their children learn the skills.
Another workshop topic was art, taught by Teacher Yang, a teacher at Bethel’s Doudian Center. In the art class, participants had a paper with a raised line shape already on it, such as a flower. Using tactile materials such as tissue paper with glue, they could create a tactile picture that they could feel and enjoy later.
Our kids who live at Bethel receive great care and education, but they are still orphans, without a family to call their own. To be in a family is still the most important aspect of a child's development, and so we hope that in reaching out to parents, we can help to reduce the number of visually impaired children in orphanages, in a small way.
We hope that everyone left the training feeling equipped and encouraged!
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