Sydney Burrell, 16 (left), and Angel McCool share a laugh during a low-vision awareness program held March 4, 2013, at Morgan Township High School in Valparaiso, Ind. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 9, 2013 11:04AM
With honest word by turn poignant and funny, three young women shared their experiences living in the world of the visually impaired with students at Morgan Township High School.
The Feb. 1 program culminated a week of hands-on activities for the students, including simulations of what it was like to get around when they couldn’t see.
The three teens — Angel McCool, 17, a junior from Morgan Township; Sydney Burrell, 16, a sophomore from Valparaiso; and Mikaela Smith, 13, a seventh-grader from Chesterton — all attend Morgan Township, which provides services for blind and low-vision students from throughout the county by way of Porter County Education Services.
The teens came up with the idea for the week of awareness activities, which concluded with them answering questions about their lives submitted by their fellow students.
They addressed questions on everything on how they select their clothes each morning to what it’s like to be vision impaired.
Mikaela was born blind, and Angel, born more than three months prematurely, has had impaired vision since birth, but can read large print and see colors. Sydney has struggled with her vision since age 7, and completely lost her sight last year.
“Slowly losing my sight was very difficult for me,” Sydney said, adding she liked video games and going online, which stopped when she lost the ability to see, “but a lot of things really are easier, like talking in front of a crowd, because I can’t see all of you.”
Mikaela shared her experiences in middle school.
“I think sometimes people ignore me in middle school. Other times, they’re on top of me, and other times, it’s just fine,” she said.
Angel spoke candidly about being teased by other students because of her sight.
“It hurts,” she said. “It’s something I’m born with, and it could happen to any one of you. I don’t think any of you would appreciate it if I made fun of you for something you have no control of.”