I was asked to speak on Capitol Hill last Wednesday for a panel discussing the importance of early childhood education programs. The idea was to shed light on the need for high quality learning at an early age through resources like Head Start, a program which I participated in as a kid, and how Congress should continue supporting these opportunities to help our kids develop the skills that will give them the best chance to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.
I have vivid memories of this time in my life because I still had sight. I remember reading and writing, I remember learning the colors, and to this day, if someone mentions blue or green or red, an image of those colors pops into my mind. As I mentioned on the panel, one of the biggest things that I gained from Head Start was finding my imagination. I gained the ability to see past reality. I learned to think differently, and think creatively. I think we can all agree that as a blind athlete competing for Team USA in the long jump, I have to think a little differently, right? Right. Those experiences helped shape my entire life, and I’m now flourishing in a world that tells me repeatedly, “You can see”.
I posted a clip yesterday of the quote that states, vision reveals where you can go, what you can do, and who you can be. The mind is a powerful thing. High quality learning is extremely critical for the personal development of our youth, and as we continue to grow and develop, we must make it a daily routine to learn, to try new things, to step outside of the box. Through these experiences comes power, a power that is available to us all. You gain vision. You begin to see past your current reality. You start to forget about, what is, and begin focusing on, what can be. You begin to see where you can go, what you can do, and who you can be. Tap into that power. Now tell me, what do you see?