A few months ago i got a call from my old home economics teacher at Jordanstown. She wanted to know if i would take part in their anual “health for life” day wwhich is where there are different things that happen throughout the day. I said i would, but when she asked me if i would talk about braille as the kids were getting bored i wasn’t too sure. I love my braille, but i would be the first to admit that i don’t use it as often as i really should. Technology is there and it’s convinient, but i would still advocate braille. I had no idea how i would convince 10 and 11 year olds to use it though.
On Tuesday morning me and another friend from school headed down to jordanstown together. It was also a chance to look round the new school as well which i hadn’t seen since i was last at the old school. It was still being built at that stage.
When we first arrived, i couldn’t believe how quiet the little road you have to cross to get into the school was. There were little scooters and that whizzing around the playground. This was a lot different from what used to be there. The actual sschool felt more like a hospital than a school to be honest. I thought maybe it was like a college but that wouldn’t describe it either. The doors were power assisted, but i don’t think you were allowed to push the button if you could pull open the door which was a bit weird. The whole place was huge! Or it seemed that way. It was very open too. If i’m honest i think i prefered the old school layout. That could be just because i’ve grown up with it.
Anyway we were taken up to the staff room first, before heading off so that my friend could do his talk first. He talked to the partially sighted people. He chatted to them about being independent and what he did after school. One of the things he did was go to The Gambia. To be honest this was pointless an albeeno being sent there, but he went over to teach the kids some sports and that, and just to be a support to them. There was an organisation over there called Govi. He said that even though they didn’t have much, they were happy and sung songs and that every day. He said he gave a 4 year old some of his bottles of suncream. The child apparently thought this was the best thing because it meant he could go out into the sun and he wouldn’t have to worry about getting burnt. I myself found that really inspiring.
I then went to talk to some of the kids about braille. I didn’t know how i was going to do it at all. I just told them about Ushi and being more independent. I told them about how even if they didn’t use braille at all, if they knew the basics it would be such a help to them. I said they could read in the dark, they could write secret messages to each other, and the other kids wouldn’t know what they were saying. I also told them that i didn’t have a choice and had to learn braille until i was about 10 or 11 when then you learnt to touch type on a computer. I also explained that they could label their cds. I was met with “But we could use the pen friend” which is a pen where you put it on a label and record a message and it’ll play it back when you put the pen back down on it. I asked them what they would do if it ran out of batteries. They said buy more. Not quite the answer i was looking for.
One of the little girls said she liked touching people. She said she was touching a randomer in the supermarket and he yelled at her. I didn’t know how to word this, but if there is one thing i hate, it’s touchy feely blind people. Sometimes there is just no need and it can be very inappropriate. So i basically said that even though they liked human contact, you should only need to touch someone if you are taking their arm or that kind of thing. I said that sometimes it can be embarrassing both for the person and the person being touched. This wasn’t a feel your face kind mind you, but she still liked to touch people on the arm and it wasn’t just a simple oh i’m finding your elbow kind of a touch. This was a full on run my hands down your arm kind of a touch. So i said that people have always told me to keep my hands to myself.
I told them that their mums and that wouldn’t always be there and especially since they are getting to the age where they need to know how to care for themselves in every sense of the word.
I then finished up with letting them see Ushi. I made such an impression that i have been asked to come back in september again to help them all with their braille. I am looking forward to that but don’t know where to start.
I got a £10 amazon gift voucher and they got the kids to write me a message in braille which i was very pleased about :).
Even though my experiences weren’t the best there at times, i wasn’t going to tell them that. I wouldn’t have got the chance anyway.
After the talks the kids went out to help dig and plant some vegetables for the home economics teacher which is brilliant to have fresh vegetables and that.
I would like to thank jordanstown for having me and look forward to seeing the kids again.
It’s been a while since i’ve blogged. I just can never get motivated. So i thought i’d write. I have another blog i need to write too for another website, but i’ll do that when the mood takes me as there is no rush.
So where to begin…The last time i wrote i was telling you all about how i had baught myself an ipad mini. I was really struggling to use it at that point, but i’m pleased to say me and the ipad are getting along rather well now thanks to the keyboard which i still use. I’ve taken it to meetings with
and have managed rather well with that. I’ve even downloaded a few games where you have to use the touch screen. I really don’t know why i was so scared. It’s a great piece of kit. I hardly ever look near the laptop now which i was surprised most about i think as i was so against using it. I just have no need to use the laptop any more. I can do everything on here. I even caught myself trying to double tap the keyboard on the laptop the last time i used it lol.
I got my c6 back and had to download talks for it. Back in march i think it was my phone stopped working. I took it into a phone repair shop but that didn’t work as they couldn’t fix it. I thought that the vodafone shop would send it away which they tried, and they sent it off three times because the Nuance company were saying that because the new phone that i had baught on ebay was white they couldn’t put the talks on it. It turned out that because vodafone didn’t sell the phone that it couldn’t be put back on. So i got it from
Where i could put it on for £50 because i was able to transfer it from my old c6 to the new one. So that was far better that the £150 i’d have had to pay if i couldn’t crossgrade.
I’ve been staying away with a friend recently. Her dog is called Zeta and the two have been getting on great. Ushi even gets on well with her cat which was what i was most worried about considering ushi has never lived with a cat.
I’ve done lots of new things whilst i’ve been with my friend and in fact, i’m here now writing this. A few weeks ago, i attended the
Open arts community choir
Which is a choir based in belfast for everyone whither it be that you have a disability or not you can still join. It was what is called their “Big choir night” which is where anyone can come and sing, and if you want you can audition to join the choir in september. There was tea and coffee and some of the members had baked things too so it was a good nights craic and i knew some of the people there. I used to be in the school choir so it was good to flex the old singing muscles again. It was amazing how quickly i slipped back in to it again. I used to not like the choir at school as it meant giving up my lunch time, and being a typical teenager i didn’t want to do that, but now i wouldn’t mind being a part of that again.
When we got home though it had tired Ushi out so much that she went straight up to bed so i couldn’t feed her because nothing would wake her. She was grand though and i’m sure she would get used to that kind of thing over time.
I also tried something called Gamalan which is like a javanese instrument. There are gongs and things called Sarons which are like zylaphones only nicer. It is a beautiful instrument but it was hard to keep up sometimes. You play it in your bare feet too which is kind of cool. I know it may sound corny, but it is believed that every note is a thread connected to heaven. I think that is a very nice way of looking at it because it’s not preechy but it does make you think.
I also attended a dance session with the group Luminous soul, which again is like the open arts choir only dancing. I only did the warm up bit as there was a performance that the rest of the group were doing which i’ll come to later. I just realised that it was the dance you did in your bare feet and the gamalan you just took your shoes off. They both were good.
I also met up with my friend Paul, went tandum cycling, went sailing with a charity called
Which i think i wrote about before but it had been a few years since i’d been.
All that has been on top of my guide dogs stuff. We had to attend a new speaker course, have had a gymcannah to go to, been in cookstown with a stall at a craft fair, been to our branch meeting, went to the Ballymena show, been to a talk, and been to Sainsburies where we are being considered for charity of the year.
I also attended an event in the ballymena library as part of a fortnight called Make a noise in libraries. This was to showcase some of the things the library is offering for it’s visually impaired users. I only went to show my face and see what is being offered. They are thinking of starting up an audio bookgroup. That personally wouldn’t be for me but at least they are trying i suppose.
We have met up twice now with a local puppywalker from belfast. Her pup is called Ritzie and she is only 6 months old. All three girls get on really well. I think it’s great for the pup having two older girls to play with and run with because it might teach her a few things. I think she is a very confident pup and i hope she does well and we’ll get to let our dogs run some more with her as she is a lovely wee thing. Her puppywalker is nice as well of course.
Last night i attended a performance called “Several stories high” which was a project funded by the belfast city counscil. The dancers, open arts choir and the gamalan had a few pieces and then the second half was the main bit. It was quite thought provoking as they had recorded stories of people growing up in belfast and a composer called Ian mccurdy had composed the pieces for it. There were actors reading some of the stories too. It was very very thought provoking and i could hear mumurs from the audience as they remembered all the things that were talked about and a lot of people could relate to the stories too. There was one bit that stuck out for me and that was when you were told about how in the war and that the falls road swimming baths were drained and all the bodies were put there. Golly that must have been so hard. It also made you think about how kids nowadays don’t realise how lucky they are. I know i sound like an old fogy, but the kids were always out on the street playing some kind of a game or other, but now, it’s very rare for kids to be outside. Yes they are out but there wasn’t any technology in the early days. God i sound really old now lol.
I enjoy having lots to keep me occupied. It’s a bit of a come down when i’m back in ballymena to be honest lol.
Well this monster didn’t seem so long now i’ve actually sat down and written it. It’s just so hard to actually get motivated.
Sorry this is so long, but i just thought i’d catch you up on things rather than leaving it much longer.
I hope you are sitting comfortably when you begin to read this lol.
I would like to thank Andrea my friend for having me and taking me to so many new things, and some old things too. It’s been great :).