Recently, The Chicago Lighthouse received a call from Gary, the parent of a child who had been enrolled in our Birth-to-Three Program nearly 30 years ago. Gary had just become a new grandparent, and his granddaughter had just been diagnosed with the same condition as his daughter a generation ago. The diagnosis brought back a flood of memories, including how important our Birth-to-Three Program was in helping his daughter—and his entire family—adapt to this unexpected challenge. Gary was calling to see if the Birth-to-Three Program was still available to provide the same assistance to his granddaughter and her family.
It is, and Gary’s granddaughter is now a thriving preschooler. Her vision has stabilized, she communicates clearly and she navigates independently. She is eager to learn and enjoys playing with her new friends on the playground. While she still encounters challenges as a child with a visual impairment living in a world built for the sighted, she has the skills to overcome those challenges as she advances through school and in life.
The Chicago Lighthouse’s Birth-to-Three Early Intervention Program will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. Over that time, we have taught thousands of infants and toddlers with visual disabilities how to use senses, such as hearing and touch, to comprehend the world around them. At the same time, we have also helped their families understand how to best support their children throughout their lives, so that they can become independent, confident adults.
We see the effects of this program every day, as several program graduates (including Chicago Lighthouse Media Associate Producer Sandy Murillo, who contributed a “Sandy’s View” perspective for this Beam) are currently employed at The Chicago Lighthouse. Their presence is a constant reminder of the potential of everyone we serve.
I hope you enjoy this issue of The Beam, which recounts some of the history of our Birth-to-Three Program, highlights a few of our success stories from it, and profiles one of the program’s longtime supporters. Thank you all for your support of this—and all of—our critical programs.
Janet P. Szlyk, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
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