When our grandson, Lorenzo "Renzo" was born nine years ago, the doctors didn't give us a lot of hope, or a lot of information regarding his diagnosis. Lorenzo was born at 36 weeks, with no complications at birth. However, within 24 hours of making his entrance into the world, ours would be turned upside down.Within the first year of Renzo's life we learned about Lorenzo's 16 diagnosis, five of them relating to vision loss.
That is where SECC charity, the Foundation for Blind Children (FBC) stepped in. As an infant, Renzo attended music therapy classes, and family members attended group where we were educated about vision diagnoses and alternative methods of reaching and teaching our kiddos.
In addition, FBC provided an Early Interventionist who came to our home once a week to provide support and techniques we could use in our home to better equip Renzo as he grew into a toddler. The focus of EI services was strengthening the vision he did have in conjunction with his other developmental issues. This was where we (family, friends, and therapists) recognized his progress within a matter of a few weeks. It was as if a whole new world was given to Renzo.
Once he knew how to use the vision he had, and work on strengthening that vision, he was making what I call "inchstones" While many families take for granted the milestones their child reaches, we relished in every small "inchstone" Renzo made - from grasping at objects, to tolerating tummy time.
When Renzo turned three, he transitioned to the FBC preschool, where the focus continued to be to enhance the vision he had and learning to function with a DeafBlind diagnosis as well. Renzo began to socialize, learn about himself as well as ways to communicate (sign language and use of an iPad as an augmentative communication device). And, despite all of the odds against him, and doctor's prognosis, Renzo went from learning to crawl, to using a walker, and by the time he promoted from the preschool program, he was walking!
Renzo is now in the third grade where he continues to thrive in receiving his education, as well as Occupational, Physical and Speech therapies. He receives Orientation and Mobility services, where he is learning to use his white cane within the community (when he's not whacking me like a piñata - something we're working on), so that he may one day achieve independence.
FBC serves the blind and visually impaired of all ages, from birth to 102 years old, and has been an essential resource to families and children with blindness or low vision within the state of Arizona for several decades. While we have so far have only transitioned through three of the service areas within the Foundation for Blind Children, we have also had several opportunities (specialized trainings, farm days, touch and feel events - circus, trucks, zoo, annual fashion show, etc.) to participate in the extra activities provided in an environment where our children can participate to the best of their individual abilities
I cannot express my gratitude for all that FBC has done for not only our family, but other families we have met over these past nine years. This is why I have selected FBC as one of the designees for my contribution to the SECC. We hope in the years to come that Renzo will be able to realize himself, how blessed he is to have had FBC be a part of his life.
Veronica Castillo - DES employee and Grandmother to Lorenzo "Renzo" Castillo
To make your pledge to SECC or for more information, click here.