A few weeks ago, Bethel China’s education team traveled to Chengdu in Sichuan province to run a workshop with 54 parents and grandparents of children with visual impairments! Our workshops give practical tools to help their child develop to live life to the fullest.
Each time we run a workshop, we see families leave their burdens behind with them and walk out with a lightness and a restored hope, believing their children can live full and happy lives. Families who have never met one another now share a bond through their love for and determination to help their kids.
We were very happy to welcome four families with babies as it’s very important to reach families when their children are young. Parents often have a lot of fear that they are not doing the right things with their child, or that their child is lagging behind in development, but we are able to give them an accurate picture of development for a blind child and how they can help their child develop at each step. This sweet Mom was very relieved to get affirmation from our staff and learn some new ideas to teach her beautiful son!
We were so encouraged to see this little boy again! His Mom came to a previous Bethel workshop and she returned to this workshop with her husband. At her first workshop, she learned the importance of encouraging a child to feed themselves when they are young. She had always fed her son, thinking his visual impairment prevented him from learning independent living skills. After she went home, she began to teach her son to feed himself, and now he can! Our team were so encouraged when they saw him this time, not just in his improved abilities, but they saw the whole family has more confidence their son will grow up to have a happy and healthy life. At our workshop, this Mom shared her story with the other parents and encouraged them to teach their children daily living skills.
The more we hold workshops, the more we encourage participants to bring all of their child’s caregivers, which often means we welcome a lot of grandparents for a truly multi-generational learning time. Here is our Education Director, Judy Liu, sharing with parents and grandparents at a break time. Often Chinese families live together with grandparents in the same home and grandparents are the primary caregivers of children, when both parents are at work. We are always pleased to see extended family members come to workshops because the whole family can learn and grow together, and have some fun!
In this photo, Bethel’s Outreach Manager Susan Qu works with a mom to encourage her baby to crawl. Often blind babies are delayed when they begin to crawl, or sometimes they skip the important crawling stage of development and go straight to walking. Susan shared about the importance of babies spending time laying on their tummies so they can develop their neck and arm muscles. To motivate them to reach and crawl, we often sit in front of them and shake a toy that makes fun sounds the child will be attracted to. We encourage parents and teachers to wear a blindfold to practice a new skill before they teach their child, so they have a better understanding of what their child will feel when they start teaching. Here, a mother tries out an adaptive mobility device (AMD) while wearing a blindfold as she experiences what it might be like for her child when he uses an AMD to walk downstairs. Our workshops include lots of interaction with participants so they can practice their skills while we share ideas. We have been running these workshops for three years now. They have a practical focus, but we know they also provide families with community, encouragement and support. Sometimes, we are the first people they have met who have given them positive feedback about their children. We want them to know how precious and valuable they are! As we support these families, we help them stay together. Our goal is to reduce the instance of abandonment, and we know the provision of practical educational tools can make a difference.
To support Bethel China’s Outreach project and partner with our education team to continue this much needed work, please visit our donation page here and specify “Outreach”