What Happens in March

By Dave Hyde

It is said that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, and sometimes the other way around. Here at WCBVI, March means preschool conference. My first year as an employee of the school, I was given the job of organizing it. I am very grateful that Tricia Weis does it now, and I get to go and help. The conference is for families with children from birth to six years old, and it serves a lot of different purposes. First, and most important, it gets parents of children with visual impairments including those with additional disabilities, together. The Friday night starts with dinner, and then they form groups to talk among themselves. The staff is politely encouraged to be elsewhere. This is when friendships are formed, and experiences shared. Parents discover that they are not alone, and that others have traveled the road before them. They learn from each other.

Saturday morning, we start sessions. They vary from year to year, but they almost always include a braille class, an eye care professional , a “make and take” and other things that change from conference to conference. As a part of that, I have done sessions, helped with sessions (once helping with an activity that included a live frog, I’m sure it was no fun for him) but most of all, answered questions.

What is most enjoyable, however, is watching the children grow up year to year. I remember one little girl I met shortly after her birth, and found myself reassuring her parents that things would work out just fine, and there was no need for fear. I saw them again at a later conference with their daughter, now six, and discovered that I was right. They had raised a perfectly normal little girl who just happened to be blind. I’ve had the chance to see those with other disabilities grow too. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things, small accomplishments which might not look like much from the outside but have resulted from a lot of work by parents, teachers and the child.

So I am excited about this year’s conference. I know I’ll meet parents who are just learning about having a child who is blind or visually impaired, or who has other disabilities. I know that I will meet families I have seen before, and have a chance to share their successes, problems, and concerns. I will also see families who have succeeded in helping their child reach for his or her potential. I’ll get to share some of the things my mom did for me, and answer questions from parents and especially children. Most of all, I’ll help them hope, and believe in their child. And that, after all, is what it’s all about.

David Hyde is a Parent Liaison and the Professional Development Coordinator at WCBVI. You can contact him by email at david.hyde@wcbvi.k12.wi.us or by phone at (608) 758-6152 or toll free 1-866-284-1107 x6152.