Raising Community Awareness: VIFAS brings support to the visually impaired & blind

. December 29, 2016.
Jackson shares his name in braille.
Jackson shares his name in braille.

A mother’s devotion to the success of her child is a motivational force that is nearly impossible to stop. With that motivation, Adrianne Kolasinski created Visual Impairment Family Association & Support as a way to bring awareness and resources to Toledo for her son and others in the blind and visually impaired community.

Bringing a community together

After returning from one of her biweekly drives to her son’s school, The Ohio State School for the Blind in Columbus, Kolasinski decided there needed to be a solution for the lack of resources and services for Toledo’s blind and visually impaired. “I wanted to find a way for that to change. I started traveling around the state and seeing what other people in the visually impaired and blind communities are offering and wanted to share it with others in Toledo,” she explained.

In November 2013, Visual Impairment Family Association & Support, or VIFAS, was born. With a mission to provide resources and service groups to the Toledo area, as well as to create awareness through schools with the use of presentations and workshops. Kolasinski has accomplished that mission to bring families and the community together.

Helping create an understanding

One way VIFAS brings awareness to others is through partnerships with local school districts. Throughout the past three years VIFAS has worked with a number of local schools including Waterville Elementary, Springfield Schools, and Penta Career Center.

VIFAS raises awareness in schools with a series of workshops. “We create workshops and different activities the children can engage with,” Kolasinski said. “This presentation also helps teachers, staff, as well as parents, to see in other ways and gives the children other ways of understanding something without sight.”

Past presentations have been geared towards high schoolers, elementary students, and parents. What is particularly interesting is that a couple of these presentations have been created by teenagers who are visually impaired or blind as a way to help their classmates better understand what it is like to live in a world with no sight.

VIFAS’s next scheduled workshop is for a fourth grade class this month. The New Year will also be focused on a partnership with Penta’s Assistance Dogs and Small Animal Care programs. “Our hopes for 2017 is to reach out to as many families as possible to create awareness for the visually impaired and blind communities.” VIFAS is always looking for new ideas to meet their mission of reaching out.

To get involved, visit vifas.org.