All Articles by Megan Borella

3 Articles

Are you up to the LightHouse 5K Challenge?

Recently, our Community Services Department asked our community of blind individuals some questions about how they live their lives and get exercise. One question was: Do you think you’d be able to run a 5k race?

Most respondents said no. Surprised?

Whether it’s a normal response – many folks just don’t have an interest in distance running – or a testament to misconceptions about blindness, we decided a 5k was a goal worth taking on, and a realistic one, to boot.

Running 5 kilometers sounds like a lot of work, and maybe the letter “k” turns people off of making the effort. Also, a common misconception about running a race is that you must run the entire time, which is not necessarily true. Many people who participate may walk for the majority of the race. Another reason blind people may shy away from a 5K is the fear of losing their way or not being able to keep up. Well, with a bit of training and help from LightHouse’s fitness partners resource many blind people may be unaware of–such problems can easily be solved.

The LightHouse’s own Serena Olsen set out this year on a mission to change fitness goals for blind people around the Bay Area. It’s called the National Fitness Challenge, put on by the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) and the Anthem Foundation to celebrate fitness goals for the wider blindness community.

August is the NFC’s halfway point, and we’ve already seen a ton of progress from our 25 participants, who were all given complimentary Fitbits to help them track their progress through the year – and it’s all part of a national effort to get the low vision community out and about. Here’s some data on all the blind people exercising their way through the summer:

“Through the first 5 months of the 2017 National Fitness Challenge, our 342 participants and 13 cities have gone over 320,000,000 steps and 141,000 miles, surpassing the number of steps from the entire 2016 Fitness Challenge.
Even during the warm weather of summer, cities have increased their activity levels on an individual and group level. Groups like Memphis and Fort Wayne showed their desire to participate in the different sports available to the blind and visually impaired with Paralympic Day events, while other groups like St Louis and Knoxville continued increasing their steps through monthly walking meetups.”

With the challenge running until November, there’s still a lot of ground to cover, so in the spirit of setting new goals and mixing things up, Serena has set the group’s sights on the 5K.

“Your muscles and vital organs benefit from the increased bloodflow,” Serena sounds like a doctor when she rattles off the reasons, adding. “There is a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of community.” To prepare her NFC team, Serena also holds weekly running (and walking and jogging) club every Saturday morning at Lake Merritt in Oakland. It’s a perfect opportunity to prepare.

Email solsen@lighthouse-sf.org to find your fitness partner and start running.

To really up the ante, Serena takes the challenge, too—she will personally register for and participate in every event where another NFC participant signs up.

“As the coordinator, it is important for me to be a good role model,” she says.

Pasted below is a list of local 5 & 10K run/walks happening all over the Bay Area throughout summer and well into fall.  The National Fitness challenge will reimburse you for your registration fees (conditions apply. Be sure to click through and read more details about specific events).

10K on the Bay

August 27, Hayward

Alameda Running Festival

September 16, Alameda

East Bay Front Runner’s Pride Run & Walk

October 14, Oakland

Night Nation Run, San Francisco

October 14, Berkeley

 

Forward a copy of your registration to Serena at solsen@lighthouse-sf.org and she will join you in your efforts, matching whatever you register for-5K, 10K, you drive it and I will see you at the starting line at the event!

And a 5K isn’t the only way to stay fit. While it is a great challenge to get people out there, socializing and exercising, there are simple ways to increase your steps every day that Serena mentioned. “Tooth brushing is one of those things where you’re brain can focus on something else. This is the perfect opportunity to pace,” she revealed. “Sometimes I will even march in place while I’m washing my hands.”

Contact Serena Olsen at solsen@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7316 for more info or to get involved.

LightHouse Life Hacks: 7 Ways the Bump Dot Can Make Your Life Easier

Ever wonder how someone with low or no eyesight turns their washing machine to the perfect setting? Yes, there’s an app for that, but as it turns out, the answer is way simpler: this week we’d like to tell you about the small but mighty sticker called the Bump Dot.

Bump dots are a low-profile, low-cost way to strategically make your home or office space more accessible and increase your effectiveness and independence. What is a bump dot, you ask? These small, raised dots come in all shapes, sizes and textures and can be put on everything from home appliances to school work. It may seem simple, but it’ll save you from selecting the wrong wash cycle or always playing the squint-and-guess game, so you can spend more time and energy on the important stuff.

To help you get started with Bump Dots, we put together seven highly effective use cases, and hope you’ll come by the Adaptations Store during business hours to pick up a handful of these handy little stickers soon.

  1. Accessorize your home appliances

You can stick bump dots on microwaves, washing machines, dishwashers, ovens and more to mark buttons or setting you use most often. They can help make sense of a touch stovetop so you can stop avoiding the kitchen and get back to cooking your grandma’s recipes or the latest recipe from the LightHouse kitchen.

  1. Enhance your classroom experience

Bump dots can also create a tactile representation of a figure on a board or can be employed to plot points on a graph. Students can greatly benefit from and excel with some extra tactile assistance, no longer feeling lost or bored in school.


  1. Stick ‘em on a computer keyboard

When first learning the layout of a keyboard without sight, sticking a bump dot on a specific key so it is easy to find it.

  1. Identify different colors

Now and then, it may be important for a blind person to be able to identify different colored objects, perhaps for class or work. This daunting task can be accomplished through the combination of different types or numbers of bump dots.

  1. Increase the accessibility of your electronics

Maybe your home phone has no tactile way of identifying the numbers or other buttons, or your cell phone has an inaccessible touch screen. Adding a bump dot will solve that problem in no time.

  1. Label bottles or other containers

The strategic placement of some bump dots on bottles in the medicine cabinet or shower can save you from a load of trouble — so you can stop accidentally using the conditioner as body wash or make sure you’re taking the right daily supplement or prescription medicine without any guess work.

  1. Use different sizes and colors to suit your changing vision

For totally blind individuals, clear dots may work great if you are marking a device that may be used by someone with sight, whereas people with low vision can used brightly colored dots to provide a contrast.

Bump Dot packages range in price from $2 to $10 at the LightHouse’s Adaptations store. Pick some up next time you’re here!

Visit the Adaptations Store.

Adaptations Store Hours

Monday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Tuesday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Thursdays: 10 am – 5 p.m.

Fridays: 10 am – 5 p.m.

 

Everything EHC Podcast: A Peek into our Camp’s Day-to-Day

Enchanted Hills Camp’s Enrichment Area Leader Masceo Williams is putting a fresh spin on Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa, California through his new podcast, Everything EHC.

“Years from now, I want people to be able to look back and see what we were doing in the past. There are so many interesting people here, and I want to be able to capture their stories through the podcast,” says Masceo (pronounced May-cee-o).

Masceo, who is blind, got involved with camp in 2014 as the nature area leader and has continued being an active member of the EHC community. He started the podcast to raise awareness about the camp within the blind community, and show what camp has done for the diverse group of both blind and sighted individuals who come back year after year.

Though LightHouse can’t take any credit for producing the podcast, LightHouse and EHC employees have featured in numerous episodes. As Masceo said in his first episode, the podcast is “recorded at EHC, by EHC, and for EHC.” The 30 episodes recorded so far, with the promise of many more to come over the summer, cover everything from camp history to band and movie reviews. In each episode, Masceo interviews a featured guest and collects a wide variety of perspectives on camp. He has featured camp director Tony Fletcher, camp counselors and other leaders, and both campers and parents during the summer’s first session of family camp.

By speaking to so many individuals, some who are new to camp and others who are very familiar with EHC’s charm, he conveys the true enchantment and beauty found there. EHC is a place where blind campers—adults and children—can find independence and lifelong friends all in the space of a few days. The property is also rented out during the off-season, allowing others to partake in its mystique while simultaneously benefitting the blind community.

Listen to a few of our favorites:

Episode 1: Get to know Camp Director Tony Fletcher

Episode 12: Chilling with Camp Counselor Nasir & Volunteer Vinay

Episode 18: With Camp regular Ken Rossi