The Perfect Focus

Finding focus in a blurry world…

Pottstown Judo Visits MCAB Day Camp

In July me and some of my students from the Pottstown Judo Club visited the Montgomery County Association for the Blind (MCAB) Day Camp… A dozen plus blind and visually impaired boys and girls from the ages of 7 to 16 years old engaged in a hands-on demonstration of the Japanese martial art of JUDO lead by Sensei Richard Favinger, Jr. (me) of the Pottstown Judo Club, and assisted by Sensei Scott Rakowski along with Pottstown Judo Club junior students, Paul, Brandon, Nick, Dylan, and Matt…

We had a wonderful time teaching them 2 judo moves each and one hold down. This hands on demo allowed the blind children to throw my students (and they loved every minute of it!) We brought uniforms for every one to try (and feel), and some of Sensei Rich’s Keystone Games medals from past events that are very textured so they can feel them. (They are in the shape of a Keystone)…

They enjoyed hanging with us and telling us many stories of what they also enjoy. Many are members of the Junior Blind Golfers Association, and have participated in Special Olympics under Swimming, Running, and Horseback Riding…

My students had a GREAT time, and the campers asked us when we where coming back! Many also asked where they can signup for judo! Sadly for many they live far away from my club. But I will do my best to find them one local if I can… If not, I may just have to start a judo club for MCAB!

One of the harder things for my young helper students to understand was how they needed to describe every thing they needed to do or tell the other child how to move a foot or hand for placement. But they got the hang of it! (Teaching not so easy eh’ guys?)

I found it a little strange when one of the blind students asked me if I could guide them back to the mat area from the hall… suddenly I was the more sighted of the bunch. I seen one of my other students guide a blind student to the bathroom and patiently wait for him outside, then guide him back to our area. I’m so proud of my students, they acted like perfect role-models!

Special thanks to Mr. Jim Hunt camp director (yellow cap) [who is also blind] from the Montgomery County Association for the Blind… and the Pottstown Judo Club. This demonstration was arranged by Sensei Rich (me)…

MCAB Day Camp 2009 and the Pottstown Judo Club

The young fellow sitting next to me, is only 7-years-old and has limited light perception – the little dude almost jumped out of his chair when we made the first call for participants! Youngest of the bunch with a triumphant “I DOOOOOO!”… and was first on the mat! – Yea!!! I love it!

To learn more about Visually Impaired and Blind Judo please, contact me!

Judo is an official Olympic and Paralympic Sport for the Blind…

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Hiding in plain sight…

While on my last mobility lesson with Elaine I ran into one of my judo student’s mothers, who said a quick hello in passing, as not to interrupt us. I was so fixated on what I was doing with Elaine I managed to forget her name to introduce her!

However, this brings another point. Though my judo students and parents know, I will now be using a white cane to travel. (We talked about it in class and what the white cane means.) I still have that uneasy feeling of “Now they know I can’t see well“. I’ve never really hid my disability from others; but now with the white cane in hand I can’t help but feel a little embarrassed.

HidingI also feel a little sad for other friends and how they may feel around others in public, because they cannot hide their disabilities because they use wheelchairs or walkers to get around. Do we ever really get over what others think of us?

How should you feel?

The only way you would know I had bad eyesight was if I was reading something with the paper close to my nose. If I met you in passing on the street, unless I had my cane, you would never know.

I really do my best to educate my students about how some people are different, and how some children, and adults have disabilities, like bad eyesight, are blind, or can’t walk. I teach them to respect disabled people as equals, and that you should never make fun of some one because of their disability.

I also explain as much as I can, and as much as I think they will understand about the disability at hand, be it my own eyesight, or our pen pal friend Cole who has Cerebral Palsy; and because of Ilia, Cole’s service dog, we also get to talk about service animals, like assistance dogs, and guide dogs. – I do my best…

Well, at least explaining why I’m using the white cane is a little easier then explaining how I’m a photographer, with a white cane… But if you really want to know you can read my post, The Blind Photographer.

To my own amazement some of my students, some of the youngest already know more then you think. As J says “I know a boy in school who uses a stick like that.” referring to my white cane. (I also know the boy he is talking about.) Or the some times off the wall questions I get, like from K who asked “Does Ilia carry Cole’s food tray in school?“…

So, what are some of the odd questions you get? Or how do you feel in public, when you wish every thing was just “normal“. Please, post your thoughts and comments!

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Children made of glass…

Do you need help, here let me do that for you…

As I sit and talk with my aunt (god mother) on the way to Forksville, PA to visit my dad the day after Christmas. I have come to the realization that some in my family are truly nuts. Or at least clueless.

As we talk on the near 3-hour drive. I mention that I’m now getting services provide by the Montgomery County Association for the Blind, and am receiving Orientation and Mobility training. As I explain to her; so I can learn to travel independently, use bus and public transportation. To this she replies, “Why would you want to do that?“…

As I pause for a moment and think to my self … WHAT THE FUCK! (Sorry kids…) But really, why would some one who cares for you be so cluless?

The objective of this all and the reason I am, the way I am today; scared to travel, and scared to go any place alone. Don’t know how to ride a bus, or use public transit is BECAUSE of over protective parents and relatives. I’m desperately trying to get away for that. I’m tired of relying on other people to take me the places I want to go.

As I had mentioned in one of my very first posts in this blog. I had O&M training to a limited extent in school. Listened to all the counselors tell my mom  I should go on camps and bus trips ect. But because of the advice of other well-meaning adults to my mother, I did not.

And I can still hear the counselors say… “You can’t protect him for ever“… Well guess what… THEY WERE RIGHT! Maybe that Ph.D. does mean something after all?

I’ve come to my own conclusions … mom won’t be here for ever, friends and family move away, and other family members have there own life and own children to look after … I’m not made of glass. Why did it take almost 30 years to realize this? And why are people still so thick…!

I should mention not all in my family are so thick, some understand and support me, and the encouragement is helpful. Remember to post your thoughts as comments too, that is what this blog is for!

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