CBS4 News is featuring a special series of reports this holiday season called the 12 Days of Christmas. The following story is written by CBS4’s Dave Aguilera.
DENVER (CBS4) – Christmas is a beautiful time filled with family and friends, sights and sounds. But, for children who are blind or visually impaired part of the holiday is lost. That’s where Denver’s Anchor Center for Blind Children comes in.
“We call him our Sensory Santa! Children who have visual impairments need to learn about the world in different ways. We can’t just show them a picture or talk about Santa they have to experience him,” said Paula Landry, a teacher at the Anchor Center.
Kids with vision impairments have to take in most of the holiday by what they can feel.
“They are feeling his suits,” said Landry. “They are putting their arms around him to feel how big he is. And they’re feeling his boots and they’re touching his beard. And listening to him say Ho, Ho, Ho.”
The Anchor Center is changing the lives of hundreds of families around Colorado and the world.
One mother tried to explain just what the center means to her family, saying it was really hard to put in words.
“When Connor was diagnosed,” said Shannon Batal, “I think what flashes through your mind is all these things he won’t be able to do. So for us the Anchor Center has really turned that on its head.
“Anchor Center gave us hope and taught our family to embrace the idea that he could do anything he wants to do.”
“I like my classroom and the friends,” 3-year-old Connor Batal said with a smile.
“Anchor Center is where he learned to jump and ride a bike, where he painted and wrote his name,” added Shannon Batal.
And teachers also call the Anchor Center a special place.
“It’s a pretty remarkable place,” said Paula Landry. Landry has a visually impaired daughter and has taught at Anchor Center for nine years.
“We are fortunate enough to work with a number of families that are going through a really difficult time. And to be able to give them hope and be able to provide ideas and strategies they can use at home in order to teach their children is, there’s nothing greater.”
Anchor Center is the only private organization in Colorado serving children from birth to 5 years old who are blind or visually impaired.
You can find out more about Anchor Center or donate at anchorcenter.org.