“The general public has no idea how to approach, speak to, or assist or not assist a blind individual, let alone a child,” local mom Michelle Ballard explains. This lack of knowledge has motivated Ballard to get the word out about the visually impaired. “I really want to get awareness out there. Just because my child is blind, does not mean he can't do the same things everyone else can. He may just do them differently.” Her son Jalen was born with bilateral microphthalmia and cataracts. Now 10 years old, Jalen has limited eyesight in his right eye. The diagnosis was at first bewildering, and Michelle was unable to find Ohio support groups for parents in her situation. It wasn't until Jalen was 4 years old that Michelle found MPVI, Michigan Parents of the Visually Impaired. She found MPVI's help invaluable in raising her son, and now wants to be able to share her knowledge with parents in the Toledo area. Her awareness campaign started three years ago with the creation of a Facebook group, Toledo & NWO Parents of Visually Impaired. Now, with help from Paul Rachow, co-founder of the already established Frog Town Low Vision Support Group for adults, Michelle and her friend Kristin Adolph, the mother of a visually impaired son, have taken the group out of cyberspace. “When we met we both felt strongly this area needed a support system for parents,” Michelle says of her collaboration with Kristin. They've created Northwest Ohio's first blind children's support group. Their inaugural meeting was held in mid-April, with upcoming events to be announced through their Facebook group; search Toledo & NWO Parents of Visually Impaired.
Frog Town Low Vision Support Group meets on the first Wednesday of every month, from 10am-1pm at Reynolds Corners Library.
More information can be found through their website frogtownvision.org.