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An eye-opening experience

 
An eye-opening experience
PASCALLE BIPPERT — La Vernia Intermediate School fifth-grader Weston Wright, who is blind, fields questions from classmates and other students Oct. 13, during a White Cane Day presentation at his school.

Weston Wright, 10, has made great strides in his quest to enlighten the students with whom he attends fifth grade. They are sighted; he is blind.

On Oct. 13, the students of La Vernia Intermediate School commemorated White Cane Day, a nationally recognized day for people who are visually impaired. Activities included several question-and-answer sessions with Weston and his mother, Christina Wright. Also participating were Jenna Krysinski with Guide Dogs of America and a guide dog, a golden retriever.

Weston fielded questions from his fellow students, who asked him about his cane, and:

•What is it like to not see?

•How do you play video games?

•How do you drive a four-wheeler?

He showed them how he uses his cane to walk, and also read a couple of the signs in the gym that have Braille dots instead of letters. He handled the spotlight with confidence and sureness that most 10-year-olds don’t possess.

In the lunchroom, one student let Weston take his wrist and guided him down the lunch line.

“I love how the students look out for Weston,” Christina said. “They really treat him well.”

Weston’s class got to enjoy lunch in their classroom. During lunch, they got to wear ocular devices -- goggles that mimic visual impairments, such as tunnel vision, glaucoma, and other obstacles the sight-impaired community deals with. Some students wore blindfolds and had to eat their lunches just like Weston does, without seeing what they were eating. It was interesting to watch them.

Weston and his family will soon embark on a new adventure. Just a couple of days before his 11th birthday in November, Guide Dogs of Texas will let the Wright family begin to raise a 9-week-old puppy to be a guide dog!

The family will have the dog for 15 to 24 months. They have been attending training classes to learn how to train the dog in their home. The family will attend monthly training sessions with the puppy to make sure it is on track to become a guide dog. When the dog leaves, it will enter “guide dog college.” Weston will be eligible to apply for his very own guide dog when he is 17 years old.

Donations welcome

The cost of raising and training a guide dog is approximately $50,000. La Vernia Intermediate School has a guide dog coin bank on campus all month; community members are invited to help fill it with donations.

For more information about guide dogs, visit guidedogsoftexas.org.

 
 
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