The Vision of Children Foundation team does not always get the opportunity to take “fieldtrips”, but when we do get the chance, it does not disappoint. This fieldtrip was an annual field day located at the South Clairemont Recreation Center that brings together visually impaired students across San Diego. It was, as the kids kept telling us, “the best day ever.”
San Diego was, in unusual fashion, rainy and dreary for the day of the event. With that being said, the kids seemed uncaring. Games were played, bikes were ridden, and kites were flown despite unfavorable conditions. In addition to the kids, Guide Dogs For The Blind, San Diego Kite Club, The Blind Stokers Club, Aira, and a handful of other also took part in the day’s festivities. Because who does not like dogs, bikes, kites, and assistive technology?
In competition with the kids for who was enjoying their time there most were the guide dogs. As you probably know by now, guide dogs normally have the extremely important task of guiding a visually impaired or blind person when they are out and about. Even when in training, these dogs must stay diligent in their training until they have time called “off-leash” time. This is where they can stop working and relax like a normal dog. For the dogs there, the entire event was basically off-leash time. It is important to note that you must MUST always ask before petting a guide dog. Most of the time when you encounter them with their owners they will be working. However, The Vision of Children team had the rare opportunity to play with and pet these hard workers for the day. Labs, retrievers, lab-retriever mixes-Oh my!
For exercise and recreation, the Blind Stokers, San Diego Kite Club, and the teachers all came together to give these kids more than enough to keep them entertained.
Possibly the sweetest interaction we came across was a little boy flying a kite with one of the club members. The member asked a student if he would like to help him launch the kite. The rest of the time spent launching this kite was spent giggling and asking all the questions one could possibly think to ask about kites.
For the students looking to run off some energy, the teachers and staff at the event put together an obstacle course and Frisbee station. I am sure we all remember what our favorite day in gym class was. I hope you are thinking about the day you saw the rainbow parachute waiting on the gym floor for 30 kids to surround it. Just like your favorite day of gym class (or maybe just mine), that parachute made a colorful appearance and was met with just as much joy as I remember it bringing to me.
A group of people enjoying themselves just as much as the students had to be the Blind Stokers Club. They had the difficult task of helping kids ride a bike, some for the first time. We would be lying if we said we were not nervous watching them quell nerves and take off with a kid pedaling on the back. That nervous feeling went away the minute we saw how well the captains rode and how much fun both riders were having.
You cannot have a proper field day without options to get a little dirty.
For the kids who like being a little messy, an arts and crafts table was set up for them to make slime. Hopefully you all have vivid memories of making slime, water, and cornstarch. After the students made the base of the slime-the slime itself- they added in beads and sequins of different shapes. If slime was not their thing, they could walk over to the next table to create hanging bird feeders. As if the day was not already cool enough, there was a planting station in the rotation. They had about five plants to choose from. Not having the strongest green thumb, I was told to pick the sunflower because they apparently need very little help to grow.
Many of you have probably heard of Aira before. Aira is a new technology available to assist blind and visually impaired individuals in their day to day activities. With a little camera clipped to your glasses, a live guide is able to see what you are seeing and explain it in real time to the wearer. After the students got over the initial “I am talking to a real person” embarrassment, their reactions were pure excitement. One student completely stopped using his white cane to walk around the park freely and without hesitation. Watching that was just as much fun as taking part in the other activities.
Field days are not common in the work place, but after attending the one last Friday, we think they should be.