By John Filek, Coordinator of Children, Youth & Family Service Program at DBSM
Since 2007, DeafBlind Services MN and the MN DeafBlind Project have collaborated in hosting a picnic for the families who have children with a combined hearing and vision loss. This year was the biggest yet with over 180 people in attendance and 30 families from across the state represented. It is a wonderful opportunity for families to connect with one another and share the joys and struggles of raising a child with multi-sensory impairments.
The picnic took place at Island Lake Park in Shoreview. As the parents talked about which school districts are the best and which specialists REALLY understand deafblindness, the children played. Kids could get their faces painted or choose from hundreds of temporary tattoos. The balloon artist did his best to keep up with the requests…motorcycles, princess crowns or dinosaurs. Children chased bunnies as others wanted to see the llama in Walton’s Hollow Petting Zoo. Everyone enjoyed the brats and burgers from the grill of Aesop’s Table.
The event also served to honor the community and school professionals who work one-to-one with deafblind kids. These individuals are the ones who make the difference as they help connect the children to the world by teaching them how to understand their environment using their available senses. These interveners work with children from birth through the age of 21, assisting them to build concepts and learning communication. Twelve interveners received certificates of appreciation and 2 interveners each received the Shining Star Award for their outstanding service to several of the families.
The success of the picnic and the large number of families attending demonstrates that Minnesota really has a terrific support network for kids with deafblindness; it is not matched by anywhere else in the country. As a result of our collaborative efforts, DeafBlind Services MN and the MN DeafBlind Project have good reason to be proud.
Enjoy the pictures from the picnic in this video!