Within only a few months of providing transition services to blind and visually impaired young people in Central and Northern California, we are pleased to see our students already building bridges to success.
Kennedy High School senior, Michelle, who is legally blind due to glaucoma, always knew she wanted to go to college. In fact, she has already been accepted to California State University, Sacramento (CSUS). And, yet, she knows that to achieve her dreams and thrive in college, she has a lot to learn in the next few months. Luckily, she found Junior Blind just in time.
Michelle is a participant in Junior Blind's Student Transition & Enrichment Program (STEP) in the Bay Area. After attending the first workshop, "Empowerment through Life's Treasures: Life Skills & Goal Setting," she knew that Junior Blind could help make her transition to college much easier. The workshop demystified the blind student college experience and provided Michelle with critical goal-setting skills.
She and her fellow STEP participants learned how to travel using the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), including how to purchase fares and navigate through the platforms. They visited the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) for a presentation on university life for blind or visually impaired students and learned about advanced goal-setting for continued success in life.
"I learned a great deal about life after high school—especially how to be successful in college as a blind student," says Michelle. "I feel much better prepared to take this next step in my life."
Thanks to the workshops, Michelle learned about contacting her school's disability services department for a technology analysis. This will help her get the adaptive equipment she needs before she even starts school.
Junior Blind's STEP program helps youth who are blind or visually impaired transition to adulthood, ready to lead independent lives. Students explore their career and educational options, learn independent living skills, network with peers, alumni and mentors, get acquainted with new technologies and become empowered to achieve their potential.
"The California Council of the Blind is optimistic that Junior Blind's transition immersion programs will ease the movement of youth from high school to post-secondary education and/or employment," says Donna Pomerantz, President of the California Council of the Blind. "Without such programs, youth with visual impairments are not always prepared for the transition."
Confidence plays a key role in the success of all students. To further enrich their self-esteem, Junior Blind offers young people who are blind or visually impaired the opportunity to participate in our Visions: Adventures in Learning Program, through which they embark on exciting, yet challenging three-day learning adventures. Michelle has already participated in three, including excursions to San Francisco, Santa Cruz and most recently to Los Angeles to volunteer for the Junior Blind Olympics.
"Thanks to Junior Blind, I've traveled to so many places that I had never been before," says Michelle. "I am grateful to have had these opportunities to work on my leadership skills."
Michelle loves being a part of the Junior Blind community. "Participating in Junior Blind's programs has made me a more confident person…and that's the most empowering feeling I could have," Michelle concludes.
For more information about the Student Transition & Enrichment Program in Northern and Central California, please contact Richard Rueda at