Sight-impaired kids participate in egg hunt
By Tina Hinz
Monday, March 29, 2010
VINTON - The hunt was on for Easter eggs Thursday. Relying on their ears, visually impaired kids scurried toward dozens of beeping eggs, nestled in baskets around the gymnasium at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton.
A few of the 15 participants, some of whom were both physically disabled and blind, raced to the noisemakers on their own. Others relied on helpers like paraeducator Heather Eldridge.
"Am I going the right way?" asked Kyla Billington, 12, of Readlyn.
Eldridge offered a couple of directional clues, but encouraged Kyla to hone in on a single egg's beep.
Kyla eventually found one, then two. Then, she dropped onto her hands and knees, crawling toward the sound of a third.
"This is hard work," she said, proudly walking her eggs over to the prize table.
Goodie baskets with more prizes, as well as cupcakes and juice, were given out at the end.
"That's not a big grin there, is it?" Eldridge joked with Kyla. "You're not happy, are ya?"
The annual event, sponsored by Qwest's Telephone Pioneers, started as a beeping softball game at the school an estimated 40 years ago, said Qwest retiree Leona Ender. The Iowa Telephone Pioneers is made up of phone company retirees and active employees.
As the school's population declined, getting softball teams together became increasingly difficult, and the event transitioned to an egg hunt, said residence dean Carla Morrow. Similar events are hosted across the nation, including at the White House.
According to Morrow, this was the third year for the beeping egg hunt. Such activities are great for the students, she said.
"The kids get a chance to interact with persons outside the school," Morrow said.
The event is equally as rewarding for the Pioneers.
"It's just fun to see their reaction, and it's something nice for them to do because they can't go out and find them in the yard like other children," Ender said. "It's something in their childhood that they'll remember. Happy times."
Paul Shaffer, who graduated from the school in 1983, now is a paraeducator there and has fond memories of playing "beeper ball."
"Way out in the field," he said. "And there'd be hot dogs and pop and popcorn and a train, too. We always looked forward to this time of year."