Tuesday, October 21, 2008
This is one of the new passions in my life. I have learned to love and appreciate Deafblind people and their culture.
Just last week, Tiffani and I joined 4 other friends and colleagues and drove with our teacher to Eunice, Louisiana for a 4-day, 3-night excursion. We volunteered as SSP's, (Support Service Provider) and gave these precious people the freedom to do what hearing/sighted people do. We played hot potato with water balloons, went to the local fair, rode scary carnival rides, and went rock climbing and horse back riding. You know, what you might expect from a Deafblind camp.
We met so many wonderful new friends. I especially appreciate the amazing attitude of the special speaker, Kim Powers-Smith. Kim was born Deaf, and because of Usher Syndrome has become, in her adult life, completely blind. She is absolutely one of my favorite people. There is very little that Kim is not willing to try. She has been scuba diving, on the scariest roller coaster and carnival rides, bungee jumping, and even jumped out of an airplane!! Fearless she is!!!! There is nothing that stands in her way, and she is not looking for an excuse or pity. Amazing!!
Tiffani and I followed Kim and Judy (her personal SSP for the week) at the fair just observing and learning from them. Together they function as one person. Judy is Deaf, and provides Kim with all of the visual clues around them. When the day was almost over, Judy said that her hands were tired and asked me to take over. I was stunned, honored and challenged. I did not, however, realize how difficult it really was. After all, Judy made it look so easy. (Isn't that the way it goes with anyone who is very skilled? They make it look so easy and effortless.)
I offer my apologies now to Kim for all of the errors I made. I forgot to warn her of the metal strip at the gate, and she almost tripped. I didn't tell her in advance that we would be climbing a rather steep ramp followed by a set of stairs to get to the ride. I did not adequately explain the buckets they were to ride in, and she bumped her head. I made many errors. But, true to form, Kim took it all in stride. Judy was right there to give me instant feedback. What a treasure. I believe I learned as much in that 1 1/2 hours as I did the whole week combined.
Tiffani enjoyed the week as much as I did. (Well maybe not as much as me.) She certainly had as much "hands on" practice as I did. It was a great weekend that we will never forget. Now, only 358 days until Deafblind camp 2009!