Stonewall’s Second Graders Learn about Classmate’s White Cane
For second graders at Stonewall Elementary, White Cane Safety Day helped them better understand a classmate who joined them this school year. Malakai Roberts, who previously attended Breckinridge, has used a white cane to navigate his surroundings since losing his sight two years ago. He also has a Perkins Brailler on his desk, a machine to assist with classwork.
“When you don’t have your eyes, you have to rely on other things,” said Stephanie McSpadden, a teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) in Fayette County Public Schools. “The cane keeps him from running into objects or falling off a curb, and on the playground, he’s always paired up with someone.”
McSpadden and several colleagues set up learning stations so the entire second grade could see how Malakai overcomes everyday obstacles. In one exercise, each child practiced being a “basic human guide” – leading a blindfolded classmate around a series of small plastic cones set out in the hallway. In another rotation, the students divided for a relay race in which they reached into covered cardboard boxes to find a particular object by its texture, size, shape, and weight. In a third classroom, the children took turns trying on goggle simulators that distorted their vision.
The morning also featured two special guests: Sam Seavey, who works at Bluegrass Council of the Blind; and Nicole Stewart, a college student in the TVI program at the University of Kentucky. Both brought along several white canes for the children to explore. Seavey noted how canes are like shoes, with different types for different situations and landscapes. The pencil tip, for instance, easily locates cracks in a sidewalk, while the omni-directional wheels tip operates like versatile skates.
“This is super helpful,” Michelle Fultz, the paraeducator who accompanies Malakai, said during a break. “(His condition) does not limit him very much,” she added. “He’s very capable of doing all that the other students do.”
Did You Know?
President Lyndon B. Johnson established White Cane Safety Day (Oct. 15) in 1964 to raise awareness of people who are visually impaired or blind.