2019 SCHOLARSHIP WINNER
THE JOURNEY OF ATTENDING AN NFB CHAPTER MEETING, BECOMING AN NFB FEDERATIONIST AND ATTENDING YOUR FIRST NFB NATIONAL CONVENTION:
By Ryan Alvin Guillebeau
I have never been to a National Convention. I lost my sight 2 years ago and I am 26 years old.
I joined the NFB Gwinnett Family Chapter. At the beginning of our Chapter meetings we recite the chapter’s mission which is “empowering ourselves – sharing talents – strengthening blindness skills and improving quality of life”. The chapter meetings are about an hour away from where I live in Georgia. My first exposure to braille was when our chapter leader, Jo Ann Collins-Johnson brought in egg cartons and Styrofoam balls for an introduction to braille training to demonstrate the braille alphabet. It helped a lot learning to refer to the six spaces as spaces as 1-6. My family members come to the meetings as well. My sister even learned how to make braille playing cards for me. My mother organized a chapter outing at Fort Yargo State Park where the park rangers along with the Audubon Society lead a hike on a paved trail (Birdberry Trail for 1.2 miles) and we learned to identify various birds on the basis of their calls. Through continued involvement in the NFB I will be looking for opportunities to contribute. I will be participating in the upcoming Magic City Walk-a-thon in Birmingham and I am sure there will be many other opportunities to contribute.
I am a young, eager and caring person who wants to improve my life skills. I feel isolated and want to be part of a group I can relate too. I need to learn about the tools that are available to me so I can build a future life as a blind person and going to the National Convention would help me learn more about what is out there that can help me adapt. I would like to know more about technology to help me learn and communicate. I am trying to move forward. I want confidence, knowledge and friends. I am both motivated and motivating but need to network and learn from my community of blind peers.