Independence

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Summer 2010 - Junior Blind of America

Summer 2010

Independence

Stories of life transformation made possible by you!

Every day at Junior Blind, Amergin takes

another step toward success.

Amergin and his family enjoy a day of

fun at the pier.

Believing You Can

Make a Difference IS

the Difference

After spending just two hours in

a special education program assigned

by his school district, five-year-old

Amergin was referred to Junior Blind

for the unique care he needed.

“We traveled all over the country

trying to find services to help

Amergin. The school he was assigned

to was just the latest in a long string

of programs that couldn’t support his

needs,” says Rick, Amergin’s Father.

Born three months prematurely,

Amergin has been diagnosed as

autistic, blind and multi-disabled. His

inability to speak combined with his

cognitive delays create behaviors that,

to the untrained eye, seem aggressive

and inappropriate.

Amergin’s teacher at Junior

Blind’s Special Education School, Ms.

Griggs, explains, “When Amergin

arrived for his first day of school,

he had behaviors such as pinching,

scratching and biting. Yes, they

were inappropriate but they weren’t

intended to be harmful. They were

just his way of interacting, playing

and showing excitement.”

Ms. Griggs’ first objective was

to help Amergin understand the

difference between appropriate and

inappropriate ways of communication

and self-expression.

“Amergin mostly pinched and

scratched when people approached

him. When he did so, we responded

with calming deep hand compressions

(hand holding and massaging) to

teach him that there are better ways

to show someone that you are excited

to play with them,” says Ms. Griggs.

In just a couple of months,

Amergin has come a long way. He

rarely pinches, rather he responds

gently and more appropriately to

others. And, his tantrums, which

occurred every day for at least 45

minutes at a time, have been reduced

to once per week for ten minutes, if

even that.

“The changes I’ve seen in

Amergin have been astounding. He

listens, follows directions and has

even started to use sign language to

communicate. Junior Blind’s Special

Education School was our last hope.

We moved our whole family so that

Amergin could be in this program,

and I am so glad we did,” says Rick.

Amergin, who made incredible

strides in just a couple of months, has

only begun to break ground.

“We believed in Amergin from

day one. He has so much promise

and he can be taught. The key is just

knowing how to teach him,” says Ms.

Griggs. “You will never hear us say,

that we can’t help a child. We believe

in each and every one of them.”

For so many children who have

disabilities in addition to blindness,

figuring out the best way to work

with them can be complex, and many

families have nowhere else to turn.

Junior Blind’s Special Education

School teachers are dedicated to each

child’s success. With the support of

friends like you, they are truly making

a difference.

Junior Blind of America • 5300 Angeles Vista Boulevard • Los Angeles, CA 90043 • 323-295-4555 • www.juniorblind.org


Sharing Our Vision

In this newsletter, we share moving

stories of children like Amergin and

David, who have progressed beyond

anyone’s expectations. Often, the

children who come to Junior Blind

have been through so much that

people begin to feel like there is little

they can do to help.

The difference at Junior Blind is

that we know we can help. We

believe in each and every child,

and when they walk through

our door, we are committed to

doing everything we can to improve

their lives.

When families have nowhere else

to turn because they have been told

there’s nothing more that can be

done, they turn to Junior Blind…

they turn to you.

Through your support of Junior

Blind, you are opening your heart

to thousands of children and their

family members who fight every day

to overcome the emotional, physical

and financial stresses that come

along with multiple-disabilities.

It’s not an easy road, but it is a

rewarding one. Thanks to support

from caring people like you, our

children and families have the

support they need to continue

their journey.

As we begin this new school year,

we reflect on all the meaningful

milestones our students have

achieved. With your support, we

will continue to build on their

accomplishments, creating new

opportunities

and changing

lives every step

of the way.

Sincerely,

Miki Jordan

President

David Gains a New View of the World

Growing up in a sightless

world, David learned that

most of the time, being careful

was a better choice than

being carefree. His condition,

microphthalmia, meant that

his eyes were extremely small—

each one close to the size of

a tiny bead. And now, at nine

years old, he has undergone

more surgeries than most

people go through in an

entire lifetime.

Facing such difficult

circumstances, it’s easy to

understand why David was

resilient, yet shy and reserved.

How could he possibly trust a

world that had given him so

many obstacles?

When David came to Junior

Blind’s After School Enrichment

Program last year, he entered

All smiles, David enjoys being a kid at

Junior Blind’s After School Enrichment

Program.

an environment in which he

was immediately supported,

encouraged, and rewarded.

“Because the program brings

sighted and blind children

together and teaches them that

it’s okay to be different, David

has had this amazing experience

in which he is around kids who

see him for who he truly is, rather

than for his visual impairment,”

says his mother, Maria.

Integrating children who are

blind with those who are sighted,

Junior Blind’s After School

Enrichment Program empowers

children to break down barriers

and work together. In addition

to receiving help with their

homework, children learn the

value of teamwork and leadership

through activities, such as healthy

(continued on next page)

Junior Blind of America • 5300 Angeles Vista Boulevard • Los Angeles, CA 90043 • 323-295-4555 • www.juniorblind.org


David Gains a New View of the World (continued)

cooking, sports, swimming and

arts and crafts.

“When David first came to the

program, he held back in so many

ways. Now, he has this newfound

confidence and it’s not only a gift

for him, it’s a gift to all his peers,”

says Joan Marason, Program

Director of the After School

Enrichment Program. “He is such

a wonderful person and now he

has the tools to share that with

all of us.”

Although it’s a long commute

of over an hour and a half, his

mother still makes the journey to

Junior Blind because it has had

such a positive impact on his life.

“Through Junior Blind’s After

School Enrichment Program,

David has been given a completely

new view of the world—one

that reaches beyond his visual

impairment,” says Maria.

Striving for independence, David runs

the 50-yard dash at the Junior Blind

Olympics.

Making a Difference Each and Every Day

By Melinda Docter, Ed.D

Principal of Special Education

School

As the Principal of Junior Blind’s

Special Education School, I see

firsthand the impact your support

has on the lives of our students and

their families.

Each day, our staff of 21 arrives

at Junior Blind as early as 6:30 in

the morning to help transition

our Special Education School

students to their respective classes.

We don’t expect miracles. Rather,

we work toward milestones that

show our students are achieving

their highest potential.

It can be difficult to understand,

but the majority of our children

come to Junior Blind unable to do

some of the most basic things, such

as feed themselves, communicate and

control behavioral outbursts. In fact,

many of our students suffer from as

many as six disabilities.

Committed to providing all

children with the opportunity to

succeed, we work to serve those

students whose medical, physical,

cognitive and behavioral challenges

lie beyond the scope of traditional

special education programs.

And, because we are the only

non-public school in California

dedicated to helping children who

are multi-disabled blind reach their

maximum learning potential, our

students and families make immense

sacrifices to be part of our program.

Many of the children we serve travel

up to two hours each way by bus

and some families, such as Amergin’s

(see page one for full article), even

move their home.

The goal of our program is to

provide our students with a safe

and positive learning environment

that meets their educational needs,

develops their independence and

increases their ability to actively

participate in the sighted world

around them.

For example, with your

support, we were able to start

Amergin on a road to success.

Within weeks, we were able to

help him understand that certain

behaviors were inappropriate and

that there are other ways to show

excitement. He has learned to be

more independent in the classroom,

which has transferred to increased

independence in his home life.

But, it takes insight, intelligence

and a loving heart to understand

how to give each child we serve the

best possible opportunity at success.

And, it takes the commitment of

people like you, who care.

Ultimately, the success of our

program is based on the success of

our students, which is made possible

by the support of our dedicated

friends. Thank you for making a

difference in the lives of our students.

We look forward to beginning a new

school year filled with meaningful

memories and milestones!

Junior Blind of America • 5300 Angeles Vista Boulevard • Los Angeles, CA 90043 • 323-295-4555 • www.juniorblind.org


Retirement Planning that Helps You, Your Heirs and Junior Blind!

Did you know that when your loved ones receive distributions from your retirement

accounts, those distributions could be taxed up to 70 percent?

A qualified retirement plan is an

effective way to save for retirement,

but not the best way to pass assets on

to your heirs. If left to an individual

other than a spouse, tax-deferred

retirement plan assets such as an IRA

or 401(k) can be subject to multiple

layers of taxation due to both estate

and income tax on distributions from

those accounts.

An option you may wish to

consider is to name Junior Blind

as the beneficiary or contingent

beneficiary of all (or a specified

percentage) of your retirement plan

and leave other types of assets that

are not taxed as heavily to your

heirs. This completely eliminates

any income taxes your heirs would

pay on those distributions and also

reduces the size of your taxable estate

for estate and income tax purposes…

while helping children who are blind

or visually impaired.

Naming Junior Blind as a

beneficiary of your retirement plan

is free and easy. Simply contact your

retirement plan administrator to

obtain the appropriate change-ofbeneficiary

forms.

In addition, if you need a tax

break during your lifetime and

are required to take minimum

distributions from your own IRA

account (you must wait until you are

70 ½ to take distributions without

tax penalties), you can offset income

taxes that you may incur with a

charitable donation to Junior Blind.

You can donate distributions

from your IRA to Junior Blind using

the IRA rollover and avoid any

income taxes on those distributions.

Please consult with your financial

advisor as to when and for what

amount you should take your

required minimum distributions.

Other planning with retirement

accounts involves converting your

traditional IRAs or 401(k)s into

Roth IRAs. Funds in a Roth IRA

grow and are distributed tax-free.

You must be 59 ½ and have held

the IRA for five years before you

can take the distribution tax-free.

For the first time, people making

more than $100,000 per year can

also take advantage of the Roth IRA

conversion. Distributions from Roth

IRAs are not taxed because the tax

is paid upfront when the conversion

is made. By making a donation to

Junior Blind in consultation with

your financial advisor, you could

offset negative tax consequences

triggered by this conversion.

One more way to make the

most of your retirement is to set

up a Charitable Gift Annuity and

guarantee yourself an income for life.

CGA rates went up on July 1st, so

now is the perfect time to set one up,

take advantage of tax savings, and

help Junior Blind.

Make the most of your hardearned

retirement funds. Consider

including a charitable donation to

Junior Blind in your retirement

planning, designating Junior Blind

as a beneficiary or contingent

beneficiary of your retirement

accounts, or set up a CGA. The real

beneficiaries will be our students! If

you would like more information

on this topic, please contact

Bonnie E. Harris, Esq., Director of

Gift Planning at (323) 290-6294.

Sample Gift Annuity Rates

Age

Payout Rate

65-66 5.5%

69-70 5.8%

75 6.4%

80 7.2%

85 8.1%

90+ 9.5%

Above are sample Gift Annuity

Rates as of July 2010. Actual

numbers may vary depending

on discount rates at the time of

the annuity’s creation. Rates are

subject to change. Rates for a

two-person annuity differ. Donors

should consult their own attorneys

or financial advisors for tax and

legal advice when considering any

type of planned gift.

Junior Blind of America • 5300 Angeles Vista Boulevard • Los Angeles, CA 90043 • 323-295-4555 • www.juniorblind.org

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