By Tia Lynn Ivey
A local support group for the visually impaired, Living Life Team, raised $10,000 last weekend at the Journey to Light Gala, held at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center (MMCC). At the fundraiser, 175 guests were served dinner while blindfolded. It was, ironically, an “eye-opening” experience.
“We had a lot of great feedback back from people about it. We really wanted to raise blind awareness, to give them a small taste of what we have to deal with on a day to day basis,” explained Rita Harris, president and CEO of Living Life Team. Harris started this support group last year, hoping to give visually impaired people the opportunity to come together as they strive to overcome their shared obstacles.
“We want to empower and inspire others that are visually impaired by discovering their self–worth and obtaining confidence, which will enable one’s fulfillment in life,” said Harris.
Harris, who is also visually impaired herself, wanted to start a group to help people cope with sight disabilities.
“It was a very difficult transition for me to go from independence to dependence,” said Harris. “I was in a dark place, but when I got through it, I had a vision to start this and to help other people dealing with this. I have no greater joy than seeing other people find joy,” said Harris.
The money raised from Saturday’s event will go toward providing various classes, trips, and resources for the group’s members. Harris plans to recruit a mobility instructor and offer brail classes.
“At first, we really focused on building up our self-confidence and self-esteem. That is something the visually impaired can really struggle with,” said Harris. “We build a repertoire through open topic discussion, partnering up for goal sharing, and once they built up relationships with each other, we started planning field trips together.”
Harris also points members to other resources and groups that will be beneficial to the visually impaired. “I try to bring in resource speakers so that they can learn what is available for them, getting them connected with assistance,” said Harris. The group has also embarked on adventures together, going bike riding and even kayaking.
The support group meets the second Thursday of every month at 10:30 a.m. in the Morgan County Library conference room.
I always reiterate to the group, that we don’t use the word handicapped. We have a disability, and a disability may limit you, but a handicap completely restricts you,’ said Harris. “We don’t want to let our disability handicap us. We will still reach for the stars. We want to still live our lives to the fullest.”
To find out more information about Living Life Team, you can visit the website at: www.livinglifeteam.net or email Rita Harris at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If you know someone who is visually impaired, I’d encourage you to refer them to our group. We want to help as many as we can,” said Harris.