Tamara’s Story

Through a partnership with area school teachers, Vision Forward programming supplements adaptive skills taught in school.

Tamara in a classroomTamara, a sophomore at Rufus King High School, says keeping up with her school work is her biggest challenge. Yet Tamara faces additional challenges not common among her classmates. When she was only two months old she suffered a stroke leaving her visually impaired.

Her challenges with vision loss have changed as she’s grown. A typical teenager, she seeks to fit in with her peers, to be looked at as “normal” and to be accepted. But, her vision loss makes that hard to do as it requires her to use adaptive tools to assist in school and daily life.

Using a white cane in school is something Tamara and other youth are not comfortable with. “It seems to be the ultimate symbol for blindness,” comments, Julie Hapeman, MPS Orientation and Mobility Specialist. “We try to get the students to understand a cane is a tool for independence and is a positive thing.” Marybeth Pfaffenroth, Tamara’s Vision Teacher, echoes this statement, “Once they realize there is nothing wrong with having vision loss, they can begin to use the tools necessary and they can move on.”

Vision Forward has become a place where youth with vision loss don’t have to worry about being different, because having a visual impairment is something to which everyone can relate. Through a great partnership between staff at Vision Forward and area school teachers, programming is offered to supplement the adaptive skills being taught in school.

Movie Nights have become a popular event at Vision Forward. Tamara is one of the many youth who look forward to attending because it’s a chance to be with others who are visually impaired. She has taken great initiative to attend the Movie Nights by arranging her own transportation and traveling independently from home to Vision Forward.

Tamara is doing very well in school and especially enjoys algebra. She is setting her sights on graduating from high school and going on to college. Tamara says “Don’t worry about a thing. Everything’s going to be okay.”