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Hope and Empowerment for the Visually Impaired

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Brianna’s Bright Future is Ahead

Brianna showing her horse saddle

Vision loss from birth has its own unique challenges. Brianna was diagnosed with Retinopathy of prematurity 18 years ago. But the loss of vision hasn’t stopped her from living life to the fullest. 

The National Eye Institute states that Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) primarily affects premature infants weighing less than 2 ¾ pounds or born before 31 weeks of gestation. This disorder usually develops in both eyes and is one of the most common causes of vision loss in childhood. Brianna says her right eye is like looking through a straw and she has no sight in her left eye. “She is amazing around the house and outside the house,” said dad. “But when she is in an unfamiliar area, she holds mom closer.”

Brianna is an animal lover who enjoys riding horses and is the youngest of three children. She lives at home with her parents, Rocky (dog) and Ty, Clyde and Bonnie (cats) and like any other teenager, you cannot separate her from her iPhone or iPad. Percy Jackson and the Olympians is her favorite book, and while listening to it, she was so entrenched into the pages, that she hadn’t realized it was past 4:00 a.m. before she put it down. Her online library is filled with hundreds of books, movies and music.

Brianna began services at the Lighthouse in 2019. Angeline, the Young Adults instructor, has been very impressed with her growth since then. When she first joined the Transition Program, Brianna appeared shy and didn’t comment much, but she has built self confidence in the group setting while initiating group discussions. She utilizes Lighthouse services including Assisted Technology, Braille instruction, mobility training and she attends all Transition Program groups…all while being a senior in high school.

“When you’re homeschooled, your child misses out on things that happen. You have class, lunch and you are social with your friends,” said Brianna’s dad. “But being homeschooled, there’s no interaction with other kids during the day. She’s Involved in church, but that’s on Sunday. Then she began meeting with the other kids at the Lighthouse, making friends and getting each other’s phone numbers. We are really thankful for this.”

Brianna walking down stairs with white cane

Brianna worked with Lighthouse instructor Latricia for 10 weeks in mobility training. One particular session was filled with many challenging tasks consisting of navigating down stairs, up escalators and finally to a specific section of the mall – the bedding department at Dillard’s. The hardest task however, was asking for help…something we all struggle to do. Training that day ended with a brightly smiling Brianna saying, “That wasn’t so bad!”

Latricia remarked on Brianna’s training, saying that she was very open to learning all the skills and techniques that will ensure her in being a great guide dog handler when she applies, something Brianna is interested in doing next. Training with Lighthouse equips clients like Brianna with techniques to navigate physical limitations while teaching important life skills and promoting individual confidence. While every client is unique in the services they receive, the Lighthouse ensures that each one, depending on their personal goals, receives as much training as they need to be independent.

Brianna has learned so much, and there’s even more to be gained in her journey. But one thing is for certain, her resilience is something to be modeled after. Even by just capturing a small clip of her journey, one can easily tell that Brianna has a bright future ahead of her. 

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Lighthouse programs and services are provided at NO COST to individuals affected by vision loss. To support our mission, please visit our Donation page.