Posts made in April 2018

A DAY WITH MY CLASSROOM CHAMPIONS!

Since 2014, I’ve had the privilege of being a mentor for Classroom Champions, an organization whose mission is to educate students nationwide on the importance of pertinent life skills like goal setting, perseverance, courage, and healthy living. Each month, I record a 3-5 minute video focusing on the topic for that month, and I speak on how that particular skill is incorporated in my own life. At the end of each video, I give my students a challenge. That gives them the chance to implement that skill into their own lives. That video is then made available to the classrooms around the country that I have been assigned to. My students will then send to me anything from video responses, Powerpoints, to essays, outlining the work that they did to apply the monthly theme to their lives. Classroom Champions lasts for the duration of the school year, and as you can imagine, those final days of school make it really tough to say good-bye to the students.

Toward the latter part of the school year, some classes are fortunate enough to receive an in-person visit from their mentor, and this year, I was the lucky guy who got to visit my students who attend Oak Grove Elementary in medford, Oregon. Listen, these classroom visits are so exciting and full of energy. After exchanging videos and having live Skype calls during the school year, meeting in person brings the mentor-student relationship full circle. As soon as you walk in the door, it feels as though you’re simply catching up with old friends. This classroom visit was nothing short of amazing! Check out this article that gives a great illustration of the day that I spent with my students of Oak Grove. I’m very fortunate to be apart of such a great organization. Always remember that kids really do have what it takes, they just need someone in their corner to help them see their potential.

OF COURSE PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND CAN HIKE!

Do you remember the first time you went hiking? Was it an easy trail, or one of the harder ones? Did you have to be very careful of loose rocks under your feet? Did you have to climb steep hills? Hiking can be challenging. Now, imagine yourself going on a hike without the ability to see. You’re blind. However, you have the verbal assistance of an AIRA agent to help you navigate along the path.

If you were wondering, AIRA is a company that uses smart glasses or your phone’s camera to provide verbal feedback on your surroundings. So, with the press of a button on my phone, I can be connected to a human agent who then has the ability to see where I am through the smart glasses or phone camera. That agent can then provide me with verbal feedback that helps me achieve virtually any task. On this day, I wanted to go on a hike on San Miguel Ranch, so I hit up AIRA, informed my agent on what I was wanting to do, and the next thing you know, we were on our way.

With the help of my agent Windell, I was able to climb over large rocks, lunge up steep hills, and weave back and forth along the trail. Although Windell’s voice was coming through my phone, I still felt as though he was right there with me as I climbed higher and higher up the mountain. Eventually, a flag came into view. I was almost to the top. I could feel it! After a few more paces, I stretched out my cane and tapped it against the flag pole. I did it! Here’s a six minute video of my journey up Mount San Miguel.

That is just one of the things that AIRA can help the blind and visually impaired community achieve. You can call up an agent and get help with reading your mail, going grocery shopping, exploring a museum, or playing corn hole. Do you want to take pictures that can be used on your social media platforms? AIRA agents can take screen shots and save them to your profile that can then be shared with others. The possibilities are endless! Here’s the thing, whenever I step onto the podium at a major competition, there’s a certain feeling that moves through my body. It’s a feeling of achievement, knowing that I accomplished the goal that I had in mind. That’s the same feeling I received when I made it to the top of that mountain. We all can’t be athletes, but we all can feel that sense of achievement. Our environment may change, but the feeling remains the same. Set out to conquer a task and see how amazing it feels to prevail, to accomplish, to achieve. It’s a feeling that you will want to experience over, and over, and over again. I promise you!