V.I.P. Inc. helps Craig student

Published 10:58 pm Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shabrianna Harris, a third grader at B.K. Craig Elementary School, poses with some of the items used to help her in her studies. Harris uses a talking calculator and larger lines for paper to help her throughout the day. -- Rick Couch

“I want to be a doctor one day to help my family when they get sick,” said Shabrianna Harris, third grader at Bruce K. Craig Elementary, as she spoke of her future dreams.

And as the light from her eyes glistened through her tiny pink frames, no one would ever imagine that the shy, soft-spoken little girl is visually impaired.

The Visually Impaired People Organization of Selma Inc., or VIP, named Harris its 2011 “Visually Impaired Person of the Year” in March. Thanks to a generous donation of supplies including a lighted magnifier, large print calendar, writing guides, a talking watch and calculator, large print ruler and 20/20 pens from Independent Living Aids in New York, Harris can feel like a normal student.

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“I could tell Harris was intelligent, self-motivated and loves to find new ways to learn,” said William H. Bowman, president of VIP. “I could see myself in her — shy with a great personality. Shabrianna is dedicated to working hard in the classroom and she doesn’t allow her sight limitations to hold her back.”

In addition to the previous awarded items, the non-profit organization also gave Harris’ school a CCTV, worth $2,000 to $3,000, to help enlarge print, text and photographs up to 100x for Harris. Text can even be viewed in color or black and white.

Harris, who is the youngest of five, loves school. She said the materials have helped her to see her class work 10 times better.

“My classmates don’t make fun of me and I feel like a normal student,” said Harris, with a smile that warms any soul. “It feels good.”

Bowman said his goal is to have more accessibility available to the visually impaired throughout the state.

“We can’t do this alone, we all have to work together,” Bowman said. “You have to have the right tools in place so those with disabilities’can improve their grades and confidence for socialization. Shabrianna needs an equal playing field while being independent, and without assistant technology, she can’t reach her goals.”

Sandra Williams, Harris’ teacher, said she sees a drastic improvement in Shabrianna.

“The enlarged print has helped her to gain even more confidence,” Williams said. “She is a happier person and she has the equipment she needs to better her education. She enjoys class and her limitations haven’t bothered her self-esteem any.”

Bowman said VIP is accepting financial contributions and supplies.

“We have a waiting list of people in need of a cc television,” Bowman said. “We want to show people we’re all the same in God’s eyes; that’s our goal.”

To give a donation and to help others just like Harris, call 349-0905 or log on to www.visuallyimpairedpeople.org.