School to host fund-raiser for teaching equipment

An eye with a clear lens versus an eye with an opaque lens.
The Athlone School of the Blind in Glenhaven will stage a fund-raiser on Saturday October 5.

Pageant… with a Twist will include a fashion show and an exhibition of pupils’ arts and crafts.

The school is raising money for a new laser printer and teaching equpment.

It serves pupils from pre-school through high school, who are either partially blind or completely blind.

“While there are students that can see, they still suffer from visual impairments that do not allow for conventional teaching methods,” said teacher Haley Paulse.

“For example, we have students that suffer from retinis pigmentosa, which causes the student to suffer from tunnel vision, which means their side vision is bad.

Other students suffer from severe disabilities and these students are put in our SID (severely intellectually disabled) classes, where I teach.

These students suffer from a range of disabilities so in order to teach them I have to often use braille, or print out subject matter in different fonts and colours of use other tools to teach them.

This makes it very difficult because there are close to 66 students at a time and to have different methods for each is a mammoth task.”

The school’s fund-raising administrator, Vera Petersen, said the pageant wasn’t just about raising money for much needed equipment but also a way for the children to express themselves and show their talents.

“All a child wants is to be loved and appreciated. They may suffer from impairments, but they do not want people to only show them sympathy. They also want to be stars and the centre of attention,” she said.

“We really hope that we can raise enough funds for all the children in the school. At the monent, we have 305 children in the school, but this number continues to climb, and there are more children out there who need our help.”

There are about 120 pupils who stay in a hostel at the school and most attend SID classes.

Ms Paulse said: “The sad reality for most of the students is that when they are at home they suffer prejudice in their communities because of their impairments.

Some students do not want to leave the hostel during school holidays because of the conditions at home and how they are treated by their own families and communities.

We have had many extreme cases where children tell us that their families cannot look after them during holidays so they are locked up in rooms and are not fed. One nine-year-old even walked from Bishop Lavis to the school just because they were not being fed at home.”

For more information about the Athlone School of the Blind or the show or to lend a hand, contact Vera Petersen at 065 813 7174.