The Collier lighthouse opens its doors to the blind or visually impaired

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Campers attended Collier’s most recent Lighthouse Kids Camp held in June. Camp activities prepare students for life in the real world. COURTESY PHOTO / COLLIER LIGHTHOUSE

Like me, you may have wondered why Collier County doesn’t have a lighthouse. Well, we have one. It’s just not made of bricks and mortar.

Lighthouse of Collier, Inc. is a beacon of hope shining on the horizon for people who are blind or visually impaired. This non-profit organization, established in 2009, makes a difference in the lives of those it serves by helping them communicate, socialize, and most importantly, feel safe in a sighted world. They like to say that in a dark world, Lighthouse of Collier leads the way.

“We offer programs for people of all ages, from birth to 90, starting with early intervention services through independent living courses for seniors,” says Scott Flagel, CEO of Lighthouse of Necklace’s.

I first heard of the Collier Lighthouse while working for the Collier County Public Schools. Their kids programs are just amazing. There is a two-week children’s camp for children ages 6-13.

  Joe LANDON

Joe LANDON

Lighthouse of Collier Children’s Services Supervisor Aria Lobl describes camp as “a place where kids learn and have fun. We strive to create a safe environment while encouraging growth. »

Participants are responsible for preparing their own lunches and cleaning up after themselves. Then they create various crafts and practice adapted sports.

Camp activities prepare children for life in the real world, at school and at home. Mobility skills, for example, are an integral part of this.

More importantly, according to Mr. Flagel, “children are encouraged to make their own choices and express themselves independently throughout the day.”

Older children and young adults, ages 14 to 24, can attend what is called a transition camp. It has a strong focus on pre-employment skills. This is a two-week camp and month-long work experience with students participating in daily outings to potential job sites and campus tours. Plus, they practice life skills like preparing meals, dining out, and learning how to manage money.

Music plays a big part in Lighthouse of Collier’s programming for children and adults. “Drumming classes provide a forum for social interaction, self-expression, creativity and great fun,” says Flagel. “Participants play a variety of percussion instruments in the style of Africa and Latin America.” Mr. Flagel adds that they listen carefully to each other and work as a team in order to play together in complementary rhythms, which is cool to see and hear.

Also in the area of ​​music, children and adults learn to read music in Braille.

One of the most popular Lighthouse of Collier programs is in place for visually impaired or blind seniors. Mr. Flagel says it is booming. “Last year we offered our special independent living skills course to 64 seniors.”

“We teach a variety of tools, tips, techniques and technologies – those ‘t’ words – to help our clients achieve or maintain independence in their homes, communities and workplaces,” explains Wendy Olson, Independent Living Skills Supervisor at Lighthouse of Collier.

The Collier Lighthouse has a new home, moving from the second floor to the first floor at the same Horseshoe Drive South address. It’s bigger and better for its accessibility needs.

And the main fundraiser of the year for the organization is scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, November 9. The 13th annual benefit, Celebrating Lighthouse, will be held at the Hilton Naples. Sarah Hardwig, a phenomenal young singer, former Lighthouse of Collier client and former CCPS student, will make an appearance.

To learn more about the event or other ways to donate, or for information on any of their programs, visit www.lighthouseofcollier.org. ¦

– Joe Landon is a communications consultant who retired as Executive Director of Communications for Collier County Public Schools in 2014. Contact him at [email protected]

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