Watertown, Mass. – More than 450 children and family members joined in on the fifth annual – and biggest ever – accessible egg hunt for children with vision loss at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown on Saturday, April 8.
Three hundred brightly colored, battery-operated plastic eggs that emit high-pitched beeps were placed around the central playground. On cue, kids who are blind, their sighted siblings and children walking with white canes, using wheelchairs or guided by volunteers swooped down in two waves to seek and gather the beeping eggs, plus 1200 more candy-filled orbs. Two golden eggs (labeled in braille) netted the finder a prize basket.
Perkins Executive Director and Superintendent of Educational Programs Ed Bosso attended the egg hunt with his sprightly daughter, Ella, age two-and-a-half. Ella is currently enrolled in Perkins’ Infant-Toddler Program.
"This is how we celebrate spring at Perkins," says Bosso, who leads Perkins educational programs, on campus and in public schools throughout the state for students from infants through age 22. "We want the learning to be as inclusive as we can possibly make it. It’s about what each child needs and what plan works best for them. And it's not just classroom stuff. Being together with friends and siblings on a spring day hunting for eggs, learning how to share and help each other out – that's something every parent wants their child to learn."
Volunteers had filled the plastic eggs with nut-free candies. "Smarties," Bosso confessed, "are my weakness."
Perkins parents Brenda Brashears of Leominster, Marlene Perdoza of Cambridge and Cara Coller of Watertown had worked for months with others from MAPVI (Massachusetts Association of Parents of Children with Visual Impairments) and other volunteers. "Nearly 100 people volunteered," said Coller, "We couldn't possibly do this without them and the Perkins staff. And I know that my own daughter's life changed when she came to Perkins. Our whole family changed when she started learning more about how to interact in social situations, at meals, everything." Izzy, aged 10, has physical and medical issues in addition to blindness. "Her vision loss is her biggest obstacle to learning, but at Perkins she's learning to achieve so much."
Year after year, volunteers from Delta Gamma of Boston University, other area colleges and the community unite to put on this complex, high-energy event. Sponsors such as The St. Lucy Society of Boston, Paul Pilkons and the Verizon Foundation, Mahoney's Garden Center, Priscilla's Candy Shop, Lightship Wealth Strategies, Inc., Fitchburg Sons of Italy, Star Market and Wegmans offer essential support.
During a lunch break, organizers and Perkins staff were already taking notes and making plans for the 2018 egg hunt. More activities and, of course, more eggs, are on the list.
Perkins School for the Blind, founded in 1829 as the first school of its kind in the US, is a multifaceted organization working around the world to prepare children and young adults who are blind with the education, confidence and skills they need to realize their full potential. Learn more at www.Perkins.org.