Joannah and Juliannah Harris are intelligent, energetic twin sisters in their late twenties who are visually impaired due to retinopathy of prematurity, a condition in which an excess of oxygen prior to birth cause retinal damage. Currently attending Humboldt State University, both sisters are majoring in computer science They have travelled extensively and never let their blindness get in the way of their ambition.
The Harris sisters first connected with the LightHouse through our North Coast office, where they both received services. The North Coast team was impressed with the sisters’ smarts and articulateness as well as their familiarity with assistive technology and command of independent living skills. The team thought the sisters would be great role models to our young campers, especially the girls. Camp Director Tony Fletcher thought the same thing and hired them as camp counselors for the summer.
In addition to monitoring the health and safety of campers, Enchanted Hills Camp counselors are responsible for working with campers on skill building and self-esteem while encouraging them to try new things. “The sisters were outstanding role models in their demonstration of a strong work ethic and their promotion of independence. And they had a great combination of skills and humor. For a counselor, the days at camp can be long and full of challenges. Maintaining a sense of humor is a great technique to succeed and make sure you’re giving your best to the campers,” said Tony. Joannah and Juliannah had a wonderful time and were able to work with campers of all ages as well as the sighted parents that attend our Family Camp. “Every session was a little different,” said Juliannah. “At family camp we got to talk to sighted parents about some of the challenges their kids might go through. They could see in us successful college students – it’s good for them to see what their kids could become.” She went on to say, “The good thing about camp is that the kids can mix with other kids who are blind and visually impaired. The camp lets them forget about [the fact that they don’t have vision] and just be kids.”
The young women have solid plans for the future. Both will graduate from Humboldt State in the spring. Juliannah plans to become an assistive technology instructor; her next step after graduation is taking the certification course at Lions World Services for the Blind. Joannah will continue at Humboldt State in the Computer and Math Credential Program so she can teach high school classes. She’s excited about the opportunity to teach math. “I want to be like the teachers I loved – I’ll be able to explain math in a lot of different ways.”