Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – “LEEP” 2011

Last week, I was once again involved with “LEEP” 2011, which is run by Oak Hill each year. “LEEP” stands for Low Vision/Blind Educational Employment Program. Students must be legally blind, between the ages of 15 to 21, possess good daily living skills, and be able to self medicate if necessary to attend.
This year, we had eight students attending, along with myself and Karin Agritelly. We stayed at the University of Hartford in their Hawk Hall dormitory for the week. Everyone arrived on Sunday and departed on the following Saturday morning.
On Sunday, students had the chance to get to know one another as they set up their dorm rooms, make door decorations, and eat pizza and snacks. Monday, the group traveled to Guiding Eyes for the Blind in New York, where we took a tour of their campus, had lunch, an orientation to their guide dogs, and finally, each student had the chance to take a walk with a dog and trainer.
Tuesday, we traveled to the New England Assistive Technology Center at Oak Hill for a day of technology. First, the group met with the staff of Silver Lining Technologies for a demonstration of computer technology and the iPhone. Next, the group participated in an interactive demonstration of the iPad. For most, it was their first experience with the iPad and they loved it! Finally, everyone made tactile hand prints during an art therapy session.
Wednesday, everyone traveled to New York City on the Mega bus. During our visit, we went to and toured the Wax Museum. Everyone enjoyed taking photos with all of the celebrities on display and we were all fascinated with the new 4D movie demonstration where we not only saw the movie, but experienced special effects such as getting wet when a rain scene was shown or getting hit with wind when it was windy. This was the highlight of the week for the group.
Thursday, the group met with some Oak Hill Human Resources staff and had an interactive discussion about resume writing, job searching, and best practices for interviewing. We then traveled to the Library for the Blind where we learned about the new digital book players and how to download books from the National Library Service website.
As our week came to an end on Friday, we traveled to a local TV station and experienced a taping of a local news show, and then traveled to the CT Radio Information Service for a tour of their facility. On Friday evening, we all had a great time drumming with exotic instruments, which was a great way to have a finale. The next morning, we all packed up and departed.
During all of our activities, we don’t provide individual sighted guides and we don’t allow our students to have staff do things for them that they can do for themselves. Some of the goals of our program are to teach students to practice self advocacy as they experience transitioning from high school to employment or high school to college. All in all, I think the students had a good time and came away with many new experiences.

Comments are closed.