Life in high school can be challenging to say the least. Even for the most socially adept of youngsters, navigating the educational labyrinth, whilst also burdened by raging hormones, unsustainable pressure, and fears about the future, is no easy feat.
Spare a thought, then, for those who have to deal with even more. Teenagers like RJ Sampson, who, in 2019, was a senior at Conifer High School in Colorado.
RJ was a bright young man, who loved going to school, but he was visually impaired, giving him an added complication to contend with.
Now, being visually impaired – while perhaps not detracting too much from the quality of everyday life – can make things a deal harder, and it can definitely take away the beauty of certain things the rest of us take for granted.
Like a yearbook, for example.
Given that much of the enjoyment a yearbook brings is rooted in the visual (pictures, quirky text, etc), it’s hardly a surprise that RJ was at a disadvantage.
So it was that on the final day of his freshman year, RJ plucked up the courage to ask his study hall teacher: “When are you going to make me a braille yearbook?”
The teacher, Leslie Thompson, thought it was a brilliant idea, but perhaps not one that was viable. After all, just getting normal yearbooks done is a big enough task in itself, let alone creating one in braille.
The years passed and not much more was said. The yearbooks came and went, and RJ was forced to accept the possibility that he might never get to enjoy a yearbook to its fullest extent.
Then came his senior year when, unbeknownst to him, Leslie and the yearbook committee put more than 1,500 hours into making a special yearbook just for RJ.
That’s right, they transposed the yearbook into braille, and presented it to him before the rest of the students.
“It was completely amazing that the students and staff went out of their way to make one for me,” RJ said. “There’s no words I can really use to express.”
I don’t know about you, but it’s touching stories like this that really restore my faith in humanity.
Thank you, to all the hard-working staff and students who went out of their way to create something that RJ will surely never forget.
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