CNIB Seeing Beyond Vision Loss Art Show & Post-Secondary & Pre-employment Skills Project


Imagine the one thing you love doing. Whether that is playing a sport, listening to music, creating art with your hands, writing, following a TV show, or simply going to work every day, this ‘important thing’ becomes a part of who we are and we would likely be lost without its influence on our lives.

But now imagine that you did lose what you love doing.

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) is a recognized organization helping those who have suffered vision loss or impairment consequently, the sense of normalcy they could once find in their day to day activities. However, they do not wish for clients to remain feeling this way.

Through various events and programs, CNIB helps eliminate further loss for their clients. One such way is done by the recent initiation of a Post-Secondary & Pre-employment Skills project for children with vision loss. CNIB believes that this will shape long term success by building assessment tools and resources, allowing CNIB specialists to be there every step of the way. By working with youth and children, CNIB can assess problems and help instill in clients life skills and motivation to be independent, increase self-confidence, and build positive relationships with peers.

CNIB’s project will be done through a self-assessment tool that identifies areas for development and which will assist clients and families in recognizing attainable goals. One-on-one sessions will take place in clients’ homes, day care, or school, allowing for peer-to-peer connections for both the clients and parents. Eventually, CNIB hopes that their specialists will be able to introduce peer-mentoring to connect clients with others facing similar situations in order to foster a mentorship role.

The Fredericton Community Foundation was able to aid CNIB in the pursuit of this project by funding the design of the self-assessment and to test the project with clients and families. Now that this is done, a framework has been created that can be used in the future, which consequently creates discussion of skill development, goals, and timelines for this project and others. Funding also provided materials and supplies such as transition tool kits for clients, and off-set client and family costs of travelling to meet for peer support and mentoring.

Back in February of 2014, the Fredericton Community Foundation was proud to help fund another of CNIB’s influential programs: Seeing Beyond Vision Loss Art Show. This show is an art exhibit created by members of CNIB and who had previously lost a part of who they were due to medical reasons. During the show, the various works of over nineteen different artists from New Brunswick were showcased; stained glass, paintings, and woodwork were displayed amongst many other pieces of art to more than sixty guests who visited the show. The 2013 October show welcomed more artists than ever before, extended its running into November, and was home to life changing stories of hope; Maxine is one of these stories.

Mrs. Maxine Walsh had a passion for woodworking, but gave it up when she lost her vision. Amanda Bent of CNIB explains how after Maxine had joined CNIB’s support group Adjustment to Vision Loss, she found the courage to being using hand tools again: “Her work is stunning and each wooden spoon demonstrates her courage to see beyond her vision loss and follow her passion.”

The Fredericton Community Foundation’s grant was used in many practical ways for the Seeing Beyond Vision Loss Art Show: funds helped the collection travel, they promoted and marketed the event, and they gave a place for artists’ work to be showcased. However, the biggest and most valuable difference is that in supporting the show, confidence and pride was restored to the artists represented.

The difference CNIB is making in our community is astounding! With Seeing Beyond Vision Loss Art Show and the Post-Secondary and Pre-employment Skills project as a prime example, CNIB demonstrates that no member of our community should ever be left out of pursuing their dream and sharing their talent.

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