A team of students from Rice University in Houston spent part of their spring break in Littleton on “The Mile High Mission: Overcoming Disability.”
Part of the mission was to help Colorado Center for the Blind students move into the apartment building the center recently purchased near Lowell Boulevard and Bowles Avenue. But a larger part was walking in the blind students’ shoes for a few hours, learning that blindness does not equal defeat.
“You’re all to be congratulated,” Julie Deden, the center’s director, told the Rice students on March 2, the last day of their visit. “You’ve learned so much in such a short period of time. ... With good training, being blind does not have to be a barrier at all. It can be very natural.”
The visit was arranged through Rice’s Community Involvement Center, to which students have to apply and be accepted. The beginning of their week was spent skiing with disabled students in Winter Park, in cooperation with the National Sports Center for the Blind.
“The NSCD and the CCB are both so unique in their approach to working with disability and so established throughout the country that the trip is made more effective by going all the way to Colorado to study the social issue,” according Rice’s website.
Judging from the emotional goodbyes after the going-away luncheon, which everyone helped prepare while wearing sleep shades, the social aspect of the visit was successful.
“You guys make it seem like a vacation,” said Rice student Natalie Lazarescou. “You feed us every day and you tell us stories. And we get the pleasure of seeing a different community, of stepping out of the hedges and realizing it’s not all about us. It’s so refreshing.”
The Rice students did, however, use words like “disorienting” and “isolating” to describe their sleep-shade experiences.
“It’s absolutely amazing what you guys do on a daily basis,” said Rice student Shaurya Agarwal .
The CCB students, in turn, enjoyed teaching their visitors about their lives.
“Thank you for the time you took away from your spring break to be with us,” said CCB student Trish Cavallaro. “Now you know we have a great life, and we experience great things, just like you.”