Brett Boyer is a counselor for the LEAP Academy program offered by the Iowa Department for the Blind. LEAP stands for Learn, Explore, Advocate and Prepare. Boyer says, “We’re a program to help visually-impaired teens mostly, about 16 to 20 years old, learning how to become more independent and give them skills that will help them become better blind people as far as living, going to college, going to work, those kinds of things out of high school.”
The program includes training in areas like the use of technology, cane travel, Braille and other communication and home management. This final week of the academy had the 12 students in Briggs Woods Park near Webster City, learning about things like camping, canoeing and wildlife. “…and how to cook on a fire, of course, how to start a fire,” Boyer says. “When blind kids learn how to start a fire, they’re just fascinated. Any kid is fascinated by fire but people always say, ‘Oh, blind people shouldn’t be starting a fire and cooking on a fire.’ We’re here to tell them they can and they will.”
The campers also went river tubing at Seven Oaks near Boone, attended an Iowa Cubs game and an orientation to airport security session with officials from the TSA at the Des Moines International Airport.
(Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City contributed to this report.)