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You are receiving this monthly eNewsletter because you or your child is enrolled in the children's programs at Center for the Visually Impaired or you have expressed an interest in the programs. These updates will come to your inbox every month.
Mark Your Calendars
November 25 - 29 – Thanksgiving break. 
No BEGIN classes and no STARS Afterschool Enrichment.
November 28 & 29 – CVI closed for Thanksgiving.
December 14 - BEGIN & STARS Holiday Party.  Invitations and details to be shared soon.
Happenings in October
BEGIN
Early Intervention
In a recent episode of NBC’s This is Us, Kate and Toby welcomed the birth of their son, Jack. The story shed light on some of the emotional realities that parents of a young child diagnosed with a visual impairment face.  Many times, family members are unaware that a child will be born blind or with a visual impairment.  This news can be overwhelming and may be in addition to other medical events.  However, as shown in the show, there are supports in place to assist families with connecting to early intervention services.
 
The most common ways that the BEGIN Program is connected with families are through referrals from the pediatric ophthalmologist or the statewide early intervention program, Babies Can’t Wait.  Sometimes families self-refer and seek out our program, or other early intervention therapists working with the child (PT / OT / ST) may refer or recommend our services to a child’s family.  Developmental pediatricians and neurology practices also refer to the BEGIN Program, as the largest population of children with visual impairment in developed countries is brain-based and involves a difference in the way that the brain perceives and processes vision functionally. 
 
Together, a family and the early intervention vision specialist work to make a plan for the child’s future that optimizes all areas of development, learning how to stimulate functional vision, develop compensatory skills and advocate for their child while navigating medical and educational systems.  Along the way, a family is introduced to peer families through classes, family events, and group music therapy sessions here at CVI.  These friendships and connections are invaluable to the families participating in our programs and can become a lifeline when they need a home base where people understand their needs.  Parents and caretakers have opportunities to participate in specialized trainings to learn about the legal structure of Early Intervention and public education and explore topics related to advocacy, self-care, technology, and medical professionals. 
 
BEGIN can offer the start of life-long connections, resulting in a supportive family with a vision for the future that recognizes the individual strength and potential of the child.  Children may enter the school system with a greater sense of preparedness and often continue to participate in BEGIN’s Programs and eventually transition to After School or Summer Enrichment activities in our STARS Program as they get older.

Meredith Snellings, M.A.
BEGIN Program Early Interventionist


To refer a child to the BEGIN program, please contact the Children & Youth Services Support Coordinator, Jazmine W. McMullen, at jwilson@cviga.org.  
A series of 6 pictures shows Sohag sitting in a supportive Tomato Chair.  Sohag is presses a large button to communicate that she would like her teacher to blow more scented bubbles for her to feel and smell.
Sohag presses a large button to signal that she would like her teacher to blow more scented bubbles.  
STARS
Mentor / Mentee Event
On October 26th, the STARS Mentor / Mentee group met at Taco Mac for an etiquette and social skills lesson. 
 
Some of the students traveled independently on MARTA train or used MARTA mobility, while others were dropped off.  All students came into the restaurant and navigated the space to find the upstairs dining area and restrooms. 
 
Once seated, the students asked the servers to go over the menu with them or looked at the menu online, made their meal selections and then independently ordered their own food.  Everyone enjoyed having the opportunity to eat, socialize, and interact with the other Mentors and Mentees.
 
One of the Mentees who attended said, "I really had a good time going to Taco Mac with my new Mentor and the food also was really good!  We got to order our own food and I had a good time talking to my Mentor, sister, and other friends."
 
Shelby Ball
STARS Program Manager


For information about the Mentor / Mentee program, please contact the STARS Program Manager, Shelby Ball, at sball@cviga.org.  The program is available to current STARS students age 11 and up. 
Spotlight
Thank You, Delta Gamma Mommies Group!

Nathan explores inside his goodie bag after Trunk or Treating.     Londyn is wearing a princess costume and preparing to explore the animals in the petting zoo.    Phoebe looks fetching in a pink sweater accessorized by matching glasses and pacifier.  A string or pearls complete her outfit.  Phoebe is smiling and petting a goat in the petting zoo.
 
The BEGIN Program extends a hearty "Thank you!" to the Delta Gamma Mommies Group for inviting our BEGIN Families to their Fall Festival on October 19th.  The group provided crafts, food and a chance for the youngsters to Trunk or Treat.  The above pictures show Nathan investigating his goodie bag and Londyn and Phoebe meeting the animals at the petting zoo.  Thank you again for such a great event!
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We are always thankful for the support of the wonderful people that are part of the CVI community.  We couldn’t provide the life-changing programs we offer without your generous commitment.  Please make a gift today! It is easy and secure to make a gift online on our Donate Now page.
Parent Info & Resources
 
Center for the Visually Impaired

Alliance Theatre

American Printing House for the Blind (APH)

Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)

Babies Can’t Wait – Georgia   

Chastain Horse Park 

Delta Gamma Atlanta

Emory Pediatric Ophthalmology

The Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC)

Georgia Academy for the Blind 

Georgia Department of Education – Visual Impairment/Blindness

Georgia DFCS Kinship Navigator Program

Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation

Georgia Sensory Assistance Project (GSAP)

GaPINES

High Museum of Art

Individualized Education Plan – Explained!  

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Lekotek of Georgia

National Eye Institute

Parent to Parent of Georgia

Paths to Literacy

Shakespeare Tavern

Special Education Services and Supports (Georgia)

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)

Understood

 
Staff Contacts
Stephanie Pizza, Ed.S, TVI
Director of Children & Youth Services
spizza@cviga.org  
404-602-4331

Shelby Ball
STARS Program Manager
sball@cviga.org
404-602-4336

Dawlyn Dieudonne
BEGIN-PINES Classroom Teacher/ STARS Instructor
ddieudonne@doe.k12.ga.us

Kay Hawkins
Children & Youth Services Program Coordinator
khawkins@cviga.org
404-602-4332
 
Krista MacCallum
Children & Youth Services Program Instructor
kmaccalum@cviga.org

Jazmine W. McMullen MSW
Children & Youth Services Support Coordinator
jwilson@cviga.org
404-602-4333
 
Avita Morgan TVI
BEGIN-PINES Classroom Teacher/ STARS Instructor
amorgan@doe.k12.ga.us
 
Emily Pack B.S., TVI
BEGIN Program Instructor
epack@cviga.org
404-602-4335
 
Meredith Snellings M.A.
BEGIN Program Instructor
msnellings@cviga.org
404-602-4334
 
STARS Staff
Miguel Eugenio Garcia
Shelia Gooch

Andrew Leslie
Shefeqah Martinez
Felicia Powell
Aracely Rosillo
, UEB Certified
Rashad Williams
Myra Wheat Ed.M
Habtamu Wilson

 

 
Copyright © 2019 Center for the Visually Impaired, All rights reserved.
http://www.cviga.org/

Our mailing address is:
739 West Peachtree Street, N.W.
Atlanta, GA 30308

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