RE Royalties is pleased to share that we have donated $25,000 to Blind Beginnings Society, an organization committed to inspiring children and youth who are blind or partially sighted, and their families, by providing diverse programs, experiences, counselling and peer support, and opportunities for them to create fulfilling lives.
Giving back, in the form of volunteering, donating to charitable causes, or attending community-led charitable events, is an integral part of the culture at RE Royalties. We believe in using our strong business model to support organizations with a cause that resonates with us and supporting blind or partially sighted youth through opportunities to develop skills, confidence, and independence, makes a big impact for their future.
Blind Beginnings Society Founder and Executive Director Shawn Marsolais was born with a degenerative eye condition that caused her vision to deteriorate throughout her childhood. Through both her personal and professional experience, Shawn identified a significant gap in services for blind and partially sighted children in BC and their families.
Since 2008, Blind Beginnings Society has envisioned a world where seeing things differently inspires limitless potential for children and youth in BC who are blind or partially sighted. Through educational and experiential workshops, pre-employment training, summer camps, recreational activities, individualized counselling and support groups, Blind Beginnings offers these youth opportunities to develop skills, confidence, and independence.
There are currently approximately 800 children and youth in BC who are blind or partially sighted.
Each year, approximately 50 babies are born with a visual impairment in BC. Children who are blind or partially sighted often have unnecessary limits placed on them by their teachers, families, and society. As a result, these children grow to underestimate their own abilities, which can substantially impact their adult life—the national average unemployment rate for adults who are blind is 70 percent.
PART 1: Our Donation Supports the Creating Confidence Program
RE Royalties' donation will help children aged 11-12 years old participate in the Creating Confidence program. This is a series of 4–6-week workshops delivered in person or online. These workshops include a variety of topics such as technology, self care, and hygiene, understanding body language, learning about how teens dress and present themselves, how to shop for oneself and practicing orientation and mobility.
These workshops provide ongoing support, new skills development, and an opportunity to connect with role models, all while building confidence and self-esteem. Being the only youth who is blind or partially sighted in their family, school, and community can feel isolating, and Blind Beginnings is a place where they can connect with others who understand.
Children and youth who are blind or partially sighted have added social challenges which inhibit self-confidence and self-esteem. From not fitting in with their peers to difficulty understanding non-verbal communication, to having others uncomfortable with their blindness, to having to self advocate.
The Creating Confidence program helps to navigate these difficult areas of human and social connections and interaction and helps participants communicate confidently and clearly, develop higher self-esteem, self acceptance, and independence. The program can help build the foundation for youth to feel confident to thinking of their future education and career goals.
PART 2: Our Donation Supports the Youth Leadership and Pre-employment Program
RE Royalties' donation will help youth aged 13-19 years old participate in the Youth Leadership and Pre-employment program.
With a national unemployment rate of over 70% for adults who are blind, Blind Beginnings is meeting an urgent need to provide skills training and practical experience for youth who are blind or partially sighted.
A first-of-its-kind in BC, the Youth Leadership & Pre-employment Program prepares youth who are blind or partially sighted for the transition to work and adult life. Youth increase independence and employability through skills training, confidence building, practical experience, and volunteering.
This program includes both virtual and in-person components. Virtual topics covered include public speaking and presentations, self-advocacy, team building and managing conflict, leadership skills, communicating effectively, empathy and active listening, professionalism and attitude, benefits of volunteering, and how to put sighted peers, bosses, and co-workers at ease with your blindness.
The in-person workshops and learning are provided as a 3-day intensive where youth from across BC travel to a hotel in the Lower Mainland. For many of them this is the first time they have travelled independently or stayed away from their families.
The components of this intensive include learning to be independent, navigating public transit, practicing mobility skills, learning how to order independently in restaurants, learning life and social skills, an opportunity to practice the leadership skills learned online, and developing relationships that started online to deepen a sense of community. Also included in the program is one-on-one career counselling, and the opportunity and guidance for youth to complete a certain number of volunteer hours.
At Blind Beginnings, we don’t see limitations. We see limitless potential. Our goal is to change people’s perceptions of what it means to be blind and to empower children and youth who are blind to live independent and self-sufficient lives.
By supporting Blind Beginnings with our corporate donation, RE Royalties' can help the organization achieve the following overarching goals:
Provide children and youth who are blind or partially sighted with experiential learning, skill-building, training, practical experience, and physical activity that supports their independence, employability, career success, healthy living, and dignity.
Raise personal expectations of children and youth who are blind or partially sighted with respect to what they believe they can do, leading to increased self-confidence and new skill development.
Raise parents’ expectations of their child to support him/her/they in reaching their full potential.
Support parents through the journey of raising a child who is blind or partially sighted, helping them focus on their child’s potential and opportunities.
Create a network of support by providing opportunities for families to meet and learn from each other through shared experiences and peer support.
Teach youth who are blind or partially sighted how to put others at ease with their blindness and form social connections and friendships.
Educate society about blindness and how children who are blind learn, to increase expectations and inclusivity in public programs, venues, workplaces, and the community.
Blind Beginnings offers their programs and services at no cost to program participants. They rely on grants, donations, and sponsorships to provide all the programs.