MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Thirty-one students competed for awards at the fifth Oklahoma Regional Cane Quest competition at the Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee.
OSB invited certified orientation and mobility specialists and certified teachers of the visually impaired to serve as judges who scored each student’s orientation and mobility skills.
Older Cane Quest competitors navigated routes in downtown Muskogee by following verbal directions and paying attention to environmental clues to reach destinations.
They stopped at 13 stations to demonstrate cane use skills, such as the touch and drag cane use technique, crossing streets with traffic lights, entering vehicles safely and ascending and descending stairs.
Younger students demonstrated their skills by completing a variety of travel tasks on the OSB campus, such as protective techniques, entering vehicles and finding dropped objects.
Eleven cane-users earned awards:
Scouts Top Boy – Dayton Baccus, Muskogee
Scouts Top Girl (Tie) – Katelynn Zampella, Muskogee & Lorie Cox, Lawton
Explorers Gold – Avery Carrington, Tulsa
Explorers Silver – Julio Valdez, OKC
Explorers Bronze – Elbin Carrillo, OKC
Trailblazers Gold –Richelle Zampella, Muskogee
Trailblazers Silver – Jonathon Phelps, Valliant
Trailblazers Bronze – Gabrielle King, Roland
Trailblazers Gold – Kaylee Ragon, Tecumseh
Trailblazers Silver – Brittany Bales, Muskogee
Trailblazers Bronze – Tai Yauri Thomas< OKC
Nearly 60 volunteers assisted with training, transportation, contest operation and food services, including team-mates who shadowed competitors as they completed their routes.
Cane Quest winners earned prizes, t-shirts and medals.
“Cane Quest is a great motivator for instructors to get the kids to practice and use their cane skills more regularly,” said Faye Miller, OSB certified orientation and mobility instructor and Cane Quest regional coordinator. “Students also interact with members of our community, which gives them confidence (about) interacting with strangers or people they don’t know.”
“Some students wear their medals the entire next week at school to show off that they’ve won something,” Miller said.
In addition to OSB, event sponsors included the Braille Institute, Humanware Blindness products, Economy Pharmacy, Frank Dirksen, Liberty Braille, NANOPAC, Inc., NewView Oklahoma, Oklahoma Council of the Blind, Oklahoma Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Sapulpa Lions Club, Ruth Kelly Studios and Edward Jones’ financial advisor Matt Chapman.
“We appreciate all of the volunteers and donors that contribute their time and resources to make Cane Quest a success,” OSB Superintendent Rita Echelle said. “Our students enjoy competing and interacting with volunteers.
“Cane Quest is a perfect opportunity for our students to utilize the cane usage skills they have been taught throughout the year,” Echelle added. “I believe it enhances their confidence and self-esteem as well.”
Cane Quest is a national program of the Braille Institute of America, based in Los Angeles, California.
OSB is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
The academic program for OSB residential and commuter students meets all state-mandated education requirements. Students also receive specialized instruction in Braille, orientation and mobility and other areas. They attend classes Monday through Thursday free of charge and are transported home for three-day weekends during the regular school year. OSB staff also assist students with vision impairments who attend other public schools, their families and educators.