Thursday, December 8, 2011

Budget Blinds' Holiday Mission for Blind Children's Learning Center - $20K in 20 Days

Matching Gift Opportunity

In honor of Budget Blinds' 20th Anniversary in the month of December the company is matching your donation to Blind Children's Learning Center, up to $20,000. 

This means your $100 donation will become $200 to help provide visual screenings for our children.

A $300 donation will become $600 to help provide physical therapy for our children.

A $500 donation will become $1000 and help provide 10 in-home visits by an Infant Development Specialists.  Wow!!!

"I was truly impressed and excited to see the great work being done at the Center.  We're on a mission to raise $20,000 in 20 days so that we can match it." - Todd Jackson, Budget Blinds Chief Operations Officer.

Click on the "ChipIn" button below to make your secure online donation now. Thank you for caring about our children. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dreams Do Come True

In May 2012 Blind Children’s Learning Center intern and alumni, Jenny Vincent will celebrate a life milestone – she’ll graduate from California State University Fullerton with a Bachelor of Science degree in Child and Adolescent Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood.  She’s on her way to fulfilling her dream to lead a group home for infants and preschoolers with special education needs. 
Diane, Jenny’s mother has already seen one of her dreams for her daughter fulfilled - Independence. 
At six weeks old a doctor confirmed Diane’s suspicions that Jenny had vision issues.  Jenny was diagnosed with bilateral coloboma, a condition that occurs in about 1 in 10,000 births.  Bilateral coloboma  is caused when a baby’s eyes do not develop properly during pregnancy.  Immediately, Jenny joined the Center’s Infant Family Focus program and an Infant Development Specialist began weekly in-home sessions for Jenny and her mother. 
Adorable 4-year-old Jenny on the
Blind Children's Learning Center campus.
Visually impaired, Jenny transitioned into the Early Childhood Center when she was six months old.  As Jenny learned to walk, Orientation and Mobility Specialists taught her the skills to safely travel in her environment.  Like in any preschool, she learned socialization skills and at the Center her love for reading Braille was born.    
“I have wonderful childhood memories of my preschool days at Blind Children’s Learning Center.  Especially my mom joining us on new and exciting field trips.  I remember going to a zoo and petting an elephant.  Going ice skating and meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time.  My family could not afford to provide these types of experiences for me.  I’m grateful to the Center for these fantastic opportunities,” said Jenny.
When Jenny  successfully transferred to her local public school kindergarten at the age of six she didn’t break her ties with the Center.  She joined the Mentoring and Peer Buddies programs.  In 2007 she began volunteering at the Center and this fall she became an intern in the pre-kindergarten classroom five hours a week.   

 “I love interning at Blind Children’s Learning Center.  One of the greatest experiences has been seeing myself in many of the children and watching them successfully accomplish developmental milestones,” said Jenny.
Jenny is proof that early intervention and specialized education for blind or visually impaired children will empower them to become successful independent young adults. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guess who is coming to town...

Secret Santa
One of our favorite holiday traditions here at Blind Children’s Learning Center is our “Secret Santa” program for the children in our Early Childhood Center (ECC).  Each child receives a Secret Santa gift after our Holiday Program on December 16th, delivered by Santa himself!  We will also be providing gifts for any of our in-home families that attend the Holiday Program.


Every Secret Santa will receive a specific student's wish list. You are asked to purchase one item from that list. The value of the items on the list may range from $25 to $40. We also have opportunities to adopt an entire family for the holidays! All presents must be wrapped, have the child's name, and be delivered to the Volunteer Center (Room G, the first door to the right of the main hallway) by December 12th.

If you, any of your family members or friends are interested in participating in Blind Children’s Learning Center’s Secret Santa program, please contact:
 Rosario at (714) 573-888 Ext. 4118 or

Happy holidays from the entire Blind Children's Learning Center family!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A brand new place to hang our tools!

Four Saturdays in a row, and we couldn't pick a favorite if we tried! On Saturday, October 15th, we were fortunate enough to have Alcoa volunteer with us for the day! With 37 volunteers, they were able to complete over 158 hours of service, and boy does it show!

First things first, it was straight to the shed for these volunteers! You wouldn't believe some of the... relics... we found buried in there!

Between adding electricity, shelving units, storage units, a work desk and more, we just can't thank Alcoa enough! We don't think we've ever seen Art so happy!

But that wasn't all! There is always painting...

... and more painting...

... and more painting...

... and even MORE painting to be done!

(Can't you see the difference?)

We are so thankful for all the volunteers from Alcoa that came out to help! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

By the time October is over, you won't even recognize our campus!

On October 8th, we were fortunate enough to have over 100 volunteers give up part of their Saturday to come help out around campus! Between the volunteers from the Orange County Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators, Kohl's as part of their Kohl's Cares Program, Villa Park High School and El Modena High School, they preformed over 420 hours of service!

Preperations started on Friday when over 700 bags of woodchips were delivered! (Thanks Canon!)

Then it was all hands on deck as our Saturday Workday began!

Be careful, it's a jungle out there!

Between the orange and the purple, the Kohl's Cares volunteers fit right in!

All of our students came to school on Monday to find squeaky clean classrooms! Thanks guys!

This woodchipping is serious business!

Wow! New woodchips make the whole playground look brand new!

 These are just some of the volunteers that were here...
... and we're so thankful for them all!!!

Thanks again to everyone that came out! Next up... Aloca on Saturday October 15th!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The changes around campus are WILD!

On October 1st, KTGY celebrated 20 amazing years by volunteering here at Blind Children's Learning Center. We may be biased, but we can't think of a better way to celebrate such a monumental occasion!

 They painted the outside of our Outreach Building!
 They CREATED and PAINTED this gorgeous mural on our Infant and Toddler building!
 They painted our Multipurpose Room!

They put everyone to work! We used these great fall decorations at our Back to School Night!
They painted the toys on our Infant and Toddler Playground!

They painted poles, doors and door swings!

We are so thankful for everyone from KTGY that came out and made some wild changes around campus! A big thank you to OneOC for putting this wonderful day together!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Our Multipurpose Room is primed and ready to go!

This weekend we were lucky enough to host a group of volunteers from the Remodelers’ Council and Terra Nova Church! They worked long and hard priming our Multipurpose Room! A very special thank you to J Steele for putting the group together and getting all of the supplies donated. 

Now the room is all ready for volunteers from KTGY and OneOC to complete the makeover this weekend!

Stay tuned for the completed room!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mommy, why is it all black?

What do you say to your precocious two year old daughter when she has lost her eyesight and asks the unimaginable question, “Why is it all black?"

When Merlyn was born she had medical issues.  Melissa and Steve Hileman accepted that their little girl Merlyn would be visually impaired, but spent countless hours in hospitals and doctors’ offices trying to save their daughter's small amount of vision.   After dozens of surgeries they lost the battle to give Merlyn sight.  Devastated they now had to deal with total blindness. 
"Miss Independent" by Melissa Hileman
Merlyn was born full term, but with complications.  Her umbilical cord was wrapped across her chest and she was not breathing.  After being resuscitated, the doctors found that Merlyn had a dislocated hip, hole in her heart, and cloudy corneas.  After a week in NICU we traveled to Los Angeles to see specialists and it was revealed that Merlyn had congenital glaucoma and a rare eye condition called Peter’s Anomaly.  We were advised that she would need cornea transplants and possibly several other surgeries to help to establish vision.  Over the next two years we spent every week in hospitals and doctors’ offices. 
Once we knew our daughter was going to be visually impaired we contacted Blind Children’s Learning Center.  Fortunately we were familiar with the school because of a nephew who had attended the school several years earlier.  Merlyn immediately began services through the Infant Family Focus at home program.  When she turned a year old Merlyn attended the Early Childhood Center on the campus.  She was very sensitive to sounds so her first year of school was spent being rocked by “Grandma” Mary or in a hammock swing to help comfort her as she adjusted to the sounds of the room.  Over the years the teachers and therapists worked together to slowly integrate her into noisy situations.
Another obstacle to Merlyn’s learning was that her eyesight was constantly changing due to cornea transplants, lens removals, glaucoma and retina detachments.  After two years and dozens of surgeries, we lost the battle to give Merlyn sight. It was devastating time for us.  We accepted that our daughter would be visually impaired, but now we had to deal with blindness.
The one thing that really helped us cope with this new “problem” was Merlyn's ability to adapt.  Just two weeks after losing her eyesight, she was actively exploring her classroom.  She began trailing the walls and counting her steps.  She was getting around so well that we thought that she might have regained some sight. But after further testing and exams it was confirmed that she was still totally blind.  That’s when we realized just how quickly she had learned to adapt to her new situation. 
Merlyn is a very precocious young lady and after she lost her eyesight she asked me, “Why is it all black?” My husband Steve and I choose to tell Merlyn in simple terms the truth.  “You were born with eyes that did not work.  The doctors helped you to see for a little while, but then your eyes broke.”  As the years went on we started adding more medical terms such as glaucoma, cornea transplant, and retina detachment to explain why her eyes “broke.”
Over the next three years at Blind Children’s Learning Center Merlyn learned to use a cane and echo location.  She learned Braille, typing and how to ride a bike.  At very young age she learned to do a lot of things on her own.  She constantly told us that she was “ Miss Independent.” 
Merlyn was almost six years old when she graduated from the Center.  She transitioned into a public school first grade class, where she confidently explained to her sighted classmates although she couldn’t see with her eyes she can see with her hands, ears, mouth and nose. 
Today Merlyn is almost 13 and starting the 8th grade in the fall.  She's an avid reader.  Recently, she competed with students from across the country and Canada in the National Braille Challenge Competition.  Out of all 60 competitors she had the highest score in reading comprehension and was awarded the "KNBC 4 LA Braille Superstar Award for Excellence in Reading Comprehension" and received $1,000 cash award.

Merlyn’s not all books.  She is a member of the STARR Cheerleaders, the JAG Cheerleaders, Real Trex (outdoor adventures for blind teens), Cedar Valley Show Choir, and is a member of the Avengers Goalball Team.  She also volunteers at our county animal shelter.  She helps socialize puppies and has now decided her career goal is to become a veterinarian. 
Merlyn has come a long way and we are grateful to Blind Children’s Learning Center for providing teachers and specialists who are knowledgeable, dedicated and nurturing.  The Center gave Merlyn essential educational and social development skills that have helped her grow into an independent young lady.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Congratulations! Today is your day.

Hope is mastering Braille and now
speaks in complete sentences.
She dreams of becoming a "story-teller."
On July 27, 2011 Blind Children's Learning Center was abuzz with family and friends celebrating the Pre-K graduation and Kindergarten promotion of 19 incredible children from our Early Childhood Center (ECC).  Here are just a few of our shining stars.

Caiya wasn't a talker when she started school, but
now she is and verbalizes her needs.
She can write her name in Braille
and has learned to identify money. It's no surprise
she wants to grow up to be a banker!

Maya is a charmer, as you can see.
She has mastered Braille and knows
all her letters. Maya is inquisitive and determined. She has decided she wants to be a doctor.

William is a sighted peer.
He's learned to read and excels in art.
He loves to dance and
teach his classmates his latest moves.
Yes, you guessed it -
he wants to be a DJ when he grows up.

A unique aspect of ECC
is the presence of sighted peers.
Sighted children learn alongside
children who are visually impaired.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Note from Nurse Jill - July is Eye Safety and UV Protection Month

Do children need sunglasses?

Yes. Children are at special risk from harmful effects of UV Rays, since their eyes do not have the same ability as adults to protect from UV radiation.

Here are some helpful suggestions for choosing sunglasses for children:
  • Check to make sure the sunglasses fit well and are not damaged.
  • Choose sunglasses that fit your child's lifestyle - the lens should be impact resistant and should not pop out of the frames.
  • Choose lenses that are large enough to shield the eyes from most angles.
  • Find a wide brimmed hat for your child to wear along with the sunglasses.  This will give your child extra protection against the sun. NOTE: Wearing a hat can cut the amount of UV rays that reach the eyes in half.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Celebrating 50 Years

50 years. What has been accomplished in the last 50 years? A man has walked on the moon, the Internet was introduced and mainstreamed, and we elected the first African American President. But there has also been an ongoing change occurring over the last 50 years that people may not realize: the Blind Children's Learning Center has been influencing, educating and inspiring children to lead independent lives.

In 1962, Services for the Blind Orange County was introduced to southern California by six blind adults. Today, it has become the Blind Children's Learning Center, working to provide an inclusive learning environment with visually impaired and seeing children alike. The ultimate goal of the Blind Children's Learning Center has always been to provide children with the tools needed to live an independent life, and for nearly 50 years, the center has been doing just that. Whether it be teaching Braille, offering vision and/or speech therapy, or simply providing individualized attention to each student, the Blind Children's Learning Center is truly following the mantra that is "destination -> independence."

In October 2012, the Blind Children's Learning Center will be celebrating its golden anniversary; its 50th anniversary. We want to reflect on our past, focus on the future and celebrate today. The center thrives on its volunteers, donors and students, and our gratitude is insurmountable. Thank you for 50 years!