Inspiring Visually Impaired Youth and Cooking Breakfast (independent living skills series 8)

“Hey Amanda, you want to join us outside?” my Orientation and Mobility teacher asked as she, another Orientation and Mobility teacher and a small group of visually impaired children waited by the door. “Sure, let me grab my cane.” I responded.

After grabbing my cane, we all headed outside to a nearby field. Seeing the children laugh, run and play made me feel good.

Everyone was fine until one student said he did not want to play with the ball because there were spikes on it.

My Orientation and Mobility teacher tried to reassure the child that he was not going to get hurt and that the ball was soft. He was still hesitant, so I stepped in. “You guys know that I have sick eyes too.” I said to the children. “Let us look at this ball. See the ball is soft.” The boy was still scared that he was going to get hurt. “I can touch it, and I am not getting hurt.” I said as I patted and touched the tactical ball.

At this point, my Orientation and Mobility teacher chimed in, “It is tactical so you can feel it.” The student was still nervous about getting hit in the face, so to combat that fear I had another student throw the ball. After I caught it and threw it back, the student’s fear was relieved and they started playing again. Joining the teachers again, we talked about the Children’s summer camp and about Jingle Ball. As we talked about these things and as I watched the children play it made me stop and reflect on my own childhood. Sadly, when I was growing up I was not involved in these kinds of programs. I wish that I was because I know that these programs help children build confidence and independence early.

Soon my cooking teacher and some of my classmates showed up. So, I went back into the student conference room. I hoped we would be baking a cake, like I requested, however instead we were going to cook a simple breakfast which included; biscuits, eggs, hash browns and sausage.

To start the cooking class off, another classmate and I peeled some potatoes. I had already previously used a peeler when I peeled some carrots, so I felt confident about this task.

After the potatoes were peeled, we had to cut and dice the potatoes. I had used a chef’s knife before, so I had some confidence already in my ability to complete this task. However, I went to fast, and I had to remind myself to slow down while I was dicing. While the potatoes were being prepared and put into a large bowl another student started making biscuits. I was curious about making biscuits because the last time I made biscuits they came out harder than rocks. I was hoping for a better outcome this time.  When it was my turn to make my batch, I was nervous and I felt unsure with my cooking abilities, and I lacked confidence which was heard in my voice as I talked to my teacher.  The dough felt sticky as I kneaded it. I did not like how the dough stuck to my hands; and I was glad when my biscuits were on the cookie sheet. Once that was done, I was relieved when I could wash my hands. I then had to face my fears and I had to place my cookie sheet into the hot oven. Before I did that, my teacher gave the whole class some tips.  I was able to put the cookie sheet in the hot oven without any problems. The battle was won. While my biscuits were in the oven I watched another student cook sausage. I was then instructed to crack and whip some eggs into a bowl. I had cracked eggs before and that was no problem. However, I had to be taught how to use a whisk. Because of my Cerebral Palsy I could not be as fancy as my teacher did it, however the way I beat the eggs got the job done.  While this was going on my teacher went from station to station checking on each student. Soon, the meat, the first batch of biscuits, and the potatoes were done. All that was left was my biscuits and the eggs. The timer beeped and that meant it was time to take the biscuits from the oven. I too had to take up this challenge and get over the fear of the heat. Before I took the biscuits out of the oven, my teacher gave us a lesson on how to safely remove the pan. He also allowed me to do a practice run of where I would put the pan before I actually took it out. I took the pan out with ease. My confidence rose. I still have a lot more pans to pull from a hot oven before I get my full confidence, however I will get there.

Once I was finished with this task, I transferred the finished eggs to a serving dish. I felt good about myself at that very moment.

It was time to eat, and the staff, and all the students enjoyed the meal.

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