Reflection…Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion Connects People

The Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion training week in Napa and the Changing Vision Changing Life Cohort Training Series in San Francisco and San Rafael really bring people together.

During this past year of immersion classes in all locations, 74 students started their journey into blind and low vision skills training so that they could learn new skills and increase their confidence to live as independently as they wanted. Each student made the commitment to him/herself to participate in an initial 50 hours of training to learn the basic, yet essential skills, strategies and resources for moving forward as their vision changed. Truth be told, a lot of learning happened, but it was the connecting to others in the class that really fueled the learning.

Whether it was during the three-week cohort classes in San Francisco, the eight-week class in San Rafael or the one-week immersion at Enchanted Hills Retreat, it was not uncommon to hear students say how happy they were to meet others who were both fearful of the unknown yet open to the opportunities of learning. All those who attended came with a different story of how their vision changed, but in the class, the cause, the accident or the disease took a back seat, while the intention on living and re-engaging through adaptation and cool techniques became the focus.

Rarely did a class break without an insightful and supportive thought, or rub on the shoulder from a peer; an occasion tear; a round of encouraging applause or a break out of laughter regarding a shared experience between people who happen to be blind or low vision. What started to be unintentional connections with students in a class, were, and have become intentional friendships that continue to support, nurture and fuel individual transformations.

Arlene Neilsen lives in Gilroy and came to the Immersion Retreat in Napa. Arlene notes, “I was closed off for 18 months and my family and others supported me to attend the training in Napa. I am laughing again. While I learned a lot during the week, the laughter touched my soul and brought me back to life. I met peers and teachers who understood what I was going through. There was a lot to learn, and many times it was overwhelming, but it was the other people that kept me going, because we were in it together. The connections I made with the others have created lifelong friendships – we are now there to support each other as we take on more training. We don’t live near each other, but since the training, we have met for dinner and we chat on the phone. When I came home from Napa, I knew I could create a plan for myself and there were no limitations.”

Start your New Year with new skills and life-long connections! The next Changing Vision, Changing Life Immersion week in Napa runs from January 26 through 31, 2014; the three-week training in San Francisco runs February 24 through March 14 and the training in San Rafael runs February 3 through March 28. To learn more about the trainings in Napa and San Francisco, contact Debbie Bacon, Rehabilitation Counselor at 415-694-7357 or For training in San Rafael, contact Jeff Carlson, Social Worker at 415-258-8496 or Changing Vision Changing Life graduates Gail McGaster, Arlene Neilsen and Alfredo de la Rosa meet at the LightHouse before meeting others for dinner