You never know what circumstances have major impacts on your life. This political season is an environment of hostility, negativity, and anger filling the airwaves. Transformational eras survives thru hope! Fear and anger derail progress by their destructive energy. In great contrast, the fifth annual Walkathon of the OSSB (Ohio State School for the Blind) demonstrates how you change the dynamics. In an interview, the students say how much they like helping the UCC (Ubumwe Community Center) in Rwanda. The UCC is a Partners In Conservation/Columbus Zoo program, helping people with disabilities. The Walkathon raises funds for canes and other material not available in Rwanda. These Columbus students feel it is important to share advantages.

The majority of the OSSB students start from nothing. The students and their families struggle with financial and social issues. Besides the disabilities themselves, in a visual world, it makes it extremely difficult to succeed. The focus on screens (handheld & the digital world), driving as transportation, and descriptions centering on visual senses, is an extreme challenge. This is in addition to the normal trials and tribulations of the teenage years. Watching the students, Kerry Nixon an OSSB teacher talks about what the Walkathon means.

“As teachers, we see all sides of the students. Most frequently in a classroom, we deal with the frustrations and teenage angst that are present everywhere. However, we also realize that we are working with a group of students as described above, in addition to the trials and tribulation of the teenage years. With that in mind, an event such as the Walkathon is one that always peaks our interest in our students. When helping others, or out in the community, our students are at their best. In spite of the stares, preconceived notions, and assumptions, their behavior and desire to help others is evident. While most of the outside community would look at our students as a group that might need help, our students see themselves as simply the helpers on their own.”

“Putting in time, effort, and money in addition to behavior that is above and beyond the norm of the “typical” teenager is what we are always fortunate to see when our students are placed in events with the community. Kids are kids, in spite of the limitations our students face on a daily basis‐ but you cannot forget that they do face many obstacles that certainly do create challenges, especially when they leave the bubble of OSSB. With the employment rate for visually impaired people around 40%, the obstacles are real‐including the preconceived notions from employers‐ despite our attempts to prepare students for the modern workforce.”

 This is true leadership. Where circumstances offer justification for anger and hostility, these students choose hope and love – reading out to others. Maybe every elected or want-a-be politician should participate in this Walkathon. This is a must event for me, to remind me and inspire me to choose hope over despair. You never know – the possibilities!