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Blind Kids Enjoy a Lesson in Road Safety : "kids and Their Parents Study Rules of The Road At Police Safety Village"

Editor's Note: Editor's Note: The following article is re-printed from The Hamilton Spectator, October 23, 2000.

Burlington - Teaching energetic preschoolers about road safety and getting it to sink in is tough enough. Try doing it with young blind children and you've taken on a real challenge.

But that didn't stop Susan Wolak, the Burlington mother of three-year-old Daniel, who is blind. Wolak organized a gathering of about 20 pre-school and school-age blind and visually impaired children aged two to 10 and their families at the Halton Police Service's Safety Village on the weekend. It has child-sized buildings, railway crossings and traffic lights.

Police use the village, located beside police headquarters on Bronte Road in Oakville, to teach schoolchildren about road safety. Wolak and other parents brought tape recorders so the children could differentiate various sounds.

"We had an incredible turnout," she said. "It was just so neat to see the kids, They really had a good time."

The children also got to ride in the village's miniature, battery operated-cars.

Wolak who runs the Blind Children and Youth Parents Association, invited parents and kids from Hamilton, Brampton and Toronto. She said the children were able to touch the road, curbs and railway track at the village - something they couldn't do in real life. "It's nice to check everything out in a safe environment." The children explored and learned without their parents having to worry about injuries. Two mobility and orientation instructors from the CNIB joined the group at the village.

The association, which is the only one of its kind in Ontario, is a division of the National Federation of the Blind Advocates for Equality. Wolak, a former Hamilton police constable, said she had so much trouble finding parents in a similar situation she decided to form the association. She said the national federation has done tremendous work in helping parents to maintain hope for their children. Through the federation, she has met blind adults who lead full and successful lives. "When you hear a blind lawyer talk, it gives parents their hopes back."

"When you realize it (blindness) doesn't mean (your child) can't live a full and successful life, it helps you move forward and get over your grief." Daniel, whose father John is a Halton police constable, is blind because he was born before his eyes were fully developed. He was born 13 weeks premature and diagnosed weks later with retinopathy. As the fetus develops, blood vessels grow from the back central part of the eye toward the edges. The process is completed in the case of a typical fetus development just a few weeks before the mother delivers.

The Blind Children and Youth Parents Association usually meets the third Monday of each month at the Burlington Central Lions Club building on Pearl Street. For more information call (905)--637-9006.

Photos provided by Susan Wolak

Comments

Road safety is very important now a days and for blind people it is a must known factor. Their parents play a major role here as they understand their child the best and can make them understand the rules and how to follow them. Wolak is doing a wonderful job by teaching the blind students and their parents about road safety.
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