Bring On More Recreation!

Authors: Emily Coleman, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)

Keywords: recreation, blind soccer, beep baseball, ECC, International Blind Sports Federation, performing arts

Abstract: TSBVI’s Superintendent discusses the importance of recreation, sports, and the performing arts for students with visual impairments and describes campus improvements that can address those needs for students on campus and throughout Texas.

Every other year, TSBVI embarks upon Strategic Planning to determine priority funding requests within the upcoming legislative session. Some requests are prioritized every session including salary increases, technology refreshes, and safety and security enhancements. We emphasize those required priorities to ensure high-quality instruction and information for the 11,000 students from across Texas who are blind, have low vision, or are deafblind. 

Within the planning process, we often identify a unique need or two that may not be a requirement for success, but could certainly enhance the outcomes and possibilities for our students’ future happiness. This time around, we’d like to see campus improvements to promote physical well-being and recreation, including the construction of a blind soccer field and a beep baseball field, as well as an outdoor amphitheater to support the arts. These improvements would address several areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments (ECC) such as recreation and leisure, social interaction skills, and self-determination. 

There are relatively few sports available to students who are blind, especially those that are designed specifically for them. TSBVI offers goalball, swimming, and track and field, three Paralympic sports. Other sports available on campus are wrestling, cheerleading, and tennis. We seek to offer beep baseball and blind soccer, which have national and international opportunities for our students. Therefore, we need to build a regulation size International Blind Sports Federation football (soccer) field, which would fit within the infield of our existing track. 

Blind soccer fields are popping up around the country at schools for the blind, and we seek to provide our students with this competitive athletic opportunity. Mark Slavin, Director of Texas Blind Soccer, has written an article about blind soccer that is included in the Effective Practices Section of this issue. We also would like to build a baseball diamond in tandem with an outdoor amphitheater to support our performing arts as well. Physical activities and personal health are critical components to a healthy life for any child, but they are often harder to come by for students who are blind, deafblind, or have low vision. TSBVI is committed to increasing access to appropriate facilities, instruction and equipment to support the health and well-being of all our students.

In addition to increasing the recreational opportunities at TSBVI, we’d also like to promote athletics across the state for students who are blind, have low vision, or are deafblind. With additional resources and funding we could pursue statewide sports clinics and perhaps increased access to athletics through our Short-term or Summer Programs. As a leader in the education of students who are blind, TSBVI seeks to ensure we offer ALL athletic opportunities available to our unique population. 

Not only can we help develop healthier habits and lifestyles, we can provide ways for our students to find their own community and develop lifelong friendships. How many of you connected to your current friends through a shared interest or activity? I’m guessing most of you…and our students deserve that same opportunity to try new things, meet new people, and build stronger relationships.


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