“I really want them to understand that their lives are limitless.”
The Colorado Center for the Blind hosted the Denver Braille Challenge on Thursday, Jan. 28 as part of the only nationwide competition of its kind, which is sponsored by the Braille Institute of America. Dozens of blind and visually impaired students from along the Front Range, ranging in ages 6 to 19, competed at the event, with the top finishers potentially qualifying for the National Braille Challenge in Los Angeles later this year.
Brent Batron, Director of Youth Services at the CCB, told KGNU’s Tony White that the children are actually excited to takes the tests and compete in the competition, but at the the end of the day, he said the event is really about the friendships and comradery that the students forge. Batron said he hopes the students can feel proud of their abilities and confident in their potential after being a part of the Braille Challenge.
“I hope these kids understand that they can compete on terms of equality and Jesus Gonzalez, 19, is a blind student from Denver who competed at the varsity level with only two others colleagues. He also feels that the competitiveness of the Braille Challenge takes second place to the bonding with fellow students and talking about what their lives are like.
Gonzalez says he likes hearing about “experiences about what everyone else does, what school they go to, where they live, what they do and what they want to study.”
There were four categories of competition, split into two sections by a pizza lunch in the dining hall with the parents. The room echoed with chatter and laughter as students swapped stories from the first half of the day and bonded with their new pals over their mutual undertaking. Many of the students may not have known each other at the beginning of the day, but by the competition’s end, they were more friends than competitors and everyone there left feeling like a true winner.
Photo: Tony White