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					                      Procedures for Starting/Maintaining
                      Braille Buddies in Your Communities

History:
Braille Buddies was founded on principals gathered from Heidi Musser, a talented
musician and Iron Man tri-athlete, who happens to be blind, and her Mom, Erika.
They started in the Skokie area. "Bring them together and they will have fun" was
their motto. Jill Palmer and Vicki Juskie with her son, Matt, started the Mokena
area group.

Braille Buddies provides a child friendly atmosphere to the differently abled
people in our communities and schools who come together to enjoy literacy. We
read, sing, learn, laugh, play games, give out token prizes, and eat snacks at the
local libraries’ meeting rooms. Braille is introduced, demystified, and books are
provided in print or Braille as needed. In this way, the children, whether sighted or
visually impaired, can get to know one another. They find out they’re not so
different. Friendships blossom and enrichment of character is achieved.

Funding
We are a non-profit so we solicit funding from several sources, i.e. our local
churches, businesses and Lions Clubs to host these events. Samples of funding
request letters are below. Grants for assistance for any Illinois gatherings may also
be funded in part or whole by the generous support of the Illinois Association for
Parents of Children with Visual Impairments, Inc. (IPVI) and its members. IPVI
appreciates the assistance from the following organizations, as well, when and
where appropriate, The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and The Family
Resource Center on Disabilities.

Contact Vicki Juskie, Treasurer, for further details at 815-464-6162 on the
procedures for the reimbursement of expenditures. The printing and postage budget
costs for all types of book copies, the snacks, small giveaways; photography, etc.
are to be pre-approved by IPVI.




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(Sample for funding request for Church Bulletin)
Help for the Blind
      Hello. I'm Matt Juskie. I'm a 5th grader at Walker, legally blind, and
learning Braille. There’s a group called Braille Buddies, which gets together
to foster literacy among visually impaired students and their communities.
We're a group of kids who have vision issues who get together to read and/or
teach Braille to sighted children and others.
      The next Braille Buddies session will be held on February 17, 2007 at
the Mokena Public Library, 11327 W. 195th Street, Mokena. We'll have the
Community Room from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
      The Braille Buddies team members will provide a Grade I lesson to
children who wish to learn. We will also play Braille games, socialize and have
snacks. So come one, come all. It's a great time. Please R.S.V.P. to Victoria
Juskie by February 15th, at 815-464-6162 to ensure sufficient materials and
Braillers are available.
      I’m also asking our community to help the Blind by making donations
to I.P.V.I., an IL non-profit support organization for families of the visually
impaired that promotes these events. Their address is 21170 Deerpath Rd.,
Frankfort, IL 60423. Thank you and God Bless.




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SAMEPLE 2
  September 14, 2009
  Mr. ________________
  ____________ Lions Club
  ______________________
  ______________________

   RE:      Braille Buddies

   Dear Mr. ________________:

   Thank you and the Lions Club for the recent offer to fund our next Braille
   Buddies Event. We respectfully request a gift of $300.00 to Illinois
   Association for Parents of Children with Visually Impairments, Inc. (IPVI).
   Your donation shall be used to purchase books in print and Braille,
   refreshments, advertising, and the miscellaneous items for the outing, all to
   help blind and visually impaired children and their families during our next
   south-side Braille Buddies session. Details of the session will be announced
   in the IPVI Insights newsletter.

   As you may recall, IPVI is a non-profit, charitable corporation that was
   formed in August, 1986. Since that time, IPVI has assisted children who
   have visual impairments (VI) or are blind by providing supportive services
   to their families and caretakers. We will also continue helping families by
   promoting and providing information through meetings, correspondence,
   publications, etc., which help parents/caretakers of the blind or VI meet the
   special needs of their children. IPVI will continue creating a climate of
   opportunity for blind or VI children and youth in the home, school, and
   society.

   We could not do any of this without the support of donors like you. On
   behalf of the children and the members of IPVI, thank you.

   With warmest regards,

   Matthew Juskie (13 year old, Jr. Honor Society 8th grader with Aniridia)
   Victoria A. Juskie, IPVI Treasurer
   21170 S. Deerpath Road

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   Frankfort, IL 60423
   815-464-6162 (voice) or 815-464-5262 (fax)

Volunteering to Set up and Run an IPVI sponsored Braille Buddies in Your
Community

Whether you’re a child whose family wants you to make more friends, a teacher
who wants to encourage camaraderie for your special needs students, or another
person just interested in helping, anyone can start a group, just follow the outline
below. The beauty is in the simplicity and the fluidness of each get together.

All in all, this effort takes about 15-20 man-hours over the 3 months’ time
including the preparations, meeting day’s festivities, and the task of picture
development/forwarding to editor with your write up about attendees.

You’ll have to pick a book; contract with a library for a particular day; contact the
local Lions Club to ask for donations (the activity costs $100 to $300 depending
upon the choices); do the leg work for the snack, drinks, and token prize purchases;
host the party (have everyone sign in); take photos; clean up; develop/forward the
pictures with disc or by email with a short write up to Ms. Bielawski at
wjbielawski@yahoo.com, (if applicable) forward pictures of the event with a thank
you to the Lions Cub or any other donor(s).

    1. Contact your local library(ies) to find one with a meeting room. IPVI is a
       non-profit. Be sure to mention that. Usually fees are waived then.
       (Alternative meeting rooms such as township halls, etc. are suitable as well.)
       Choose a day. Typically we’ve used Saturday mornings. Secure the room for
       two to three hours. If there’s a form, to complete and you have questions,
       call 815-464-6162 or 877-411-IPVI (toll free).

    2. Choose a book suitable for the anticipated group. If there are numerous age
       groups, two different types of books are fine as well. The objective is to
       gather the children together and give them camaraderie. Being flexible helps
       with flow of the gathering.

    3. Write up an advertisement for the IPVI to run in its newsletter. (Samples
       below). Forward to Editor, Joan Bielawski at wjbielawski@yahoo.com


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              BRAILLE BUDDIES (SAMPLE 1 ANNOUNCEMENT)
        The next Braille Buddies session will be held on February 17, 2007 at
the Mokena Public Library, 11327 W. 195th Street, Mokena. We'll have the
Community Room from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
        Ms. Jill Palmer, Matt, Heidi, and Akash, together with other Braille
Buddies team members, will provide a Grade I lesson to children who wish to
learn. We will also play Braille games, socialize and have snacks.
        So come one, come all. It's a great time. Please R.S.V.P. to Victoria
Juskie by February 15th, at 815-464-6162 to ensure sufficient materials and
Braillers are available
.
              BRAILLE BUDDIES (SAMPLE 2 ANNOUNCEMENT)
        The next Braille Buddies will be held on March 20, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. to
1 p.m. at the Mokena Public Library located at 11327 W. 195th Street,
Mokena.
        All interested should please R.S.V.P. to Vicki Juskie by February 17th
to ensure sufficient books are available. Call 815-464-6162 or e-mail at
VAJUSKIE@AOL.COM and let Vicki know if you want the book in print or
Braille. A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck tentatively has been chosen as
our book. Younger readers may be provided a different book suitable to
their age bracket in print or Braille as well.
.
        We will also play games, socialize and have snacks. So come one, come
all. It's a great time. Thanks Frankfort Lions Club for your generous
support of this activity. Hope to see you there.




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Advertising
This is a grass roots movement that has been done wholly by word of mouth
through volunteers. Free ads can be placed in IPVI Insights, local church bulletins,
some newspapers or by flyers placed at banks, restaurants or other local
community businesses. For questions or for your information to be included in
Insights, just email Joan Bielawski, editor, at wjbielawski@yahoo.com or Vicki
Juskie at vajuskie@aol.com.

One of the drawbacks of government laws is that it’s very difficult for families to
find and thereby connect in their local communities with others who share visual
impairments or other disabilities. There’s no master list of people affected by
vision loss. So IPVI reaches out to all VI teachers, educators, therapists, medical
staff and other professionals who may encounter vision impairments or other
disabilities so you may let your parents/clients know about Braille Buddies and its
benefits. Here’s our pamphlet. (The pamphlet would be our IPVI brochure.
Contact Joan Bielawski at 630-357-8576 for copies).

Local libraries usually have meeting rooms for rent. Since Braille Buddies has
functioned under IPVI, your gathering could also be considered a non-profit so
there usually is no charge or a very small one for the room.

Each library may use its own forms for renting out the room and dictating what
type of snacks/beverages may be used. Please adhere to you local standards.
Secure a date three months in advance. Historically we have used Saturday
mornings from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Using your 90-day window for setting up the get together, draft a flyer which you
can use for multiple purposes.




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                 BRAILLE BUDDIES:
Who: Any children 18 years and younger, together with their families
What: Braille Buddies
When: Saturday, __________ _____, 20____ from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: ______________ Library Meeting Room
     Address: _______________________,
                 ______________________, IL
     Phone: ________________________

Activities:
       Ever been interested in learning more about Braille? Come join our
group. Braille Buddies provides a child-friendly atmosphere to the differently
abled people in our communities and schools who come together to enjoy
literacy.
       We read, sing, learn, laugh, play games, give out token prizes, and eat
snacks at the local libraries’ meeting rooms. Braille is introduced and books
are provided in print or Braille as needed so that the children, whether
sighted or visually impaired, can get to know one another. They find out
they’re not so different. Friendships blossom. Literacy flourishes.
       We seek to enlighten children with no physical issues to join in by
reading with and/or learning Braille as a start. Then we progress into reading
books provided by the club in both print and Braille so that all can have the
same book to read.
       RSVP by Date: ___________ with the names, addresses, and ages of all
attendees so enough of print or Braille books can be ordered in a timely
fashion. Call: Name _______________ at phone number: ____________ for
more information on this meeting.
       Sponsored by Parents of Children with Visual Impairments, Inc. (IPVI)
and its members. We appreciate the assistance from the following
organizations, as well when appropriate: the Chicago Lighthouse for the
Blind, local Lions Clubs, and/or the Family Resource Center on Disabilities.




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Once the flyer is developed, decide upon a book. (Many times it’s easier to get a
short book, i.e. The Story of Balto, for your initial get together.) Obtain a copy of
the book for every child to keep. So once you have an idea of how many are
coming and what format (print or Braille) is needed, obtain hard copies for each
(typically purchase at least one or two more copies of each print since last minute
attendees typically occur. Extra copies are donated to the Skokie or Mokena
Libraries). Work on obtaining the Braille Copies first as they take the longest lead
time. Be flexible with your book choices as well. Sometimes it’s helpful to ask if
they have several copies of any books already Brailled.

Some valuable sources are listed below. Many others can be found via an Internet
search of Braille Books

                    For Braille: Seedlings Braille Books for Children
                    8447 Marygrove,
                    Detroit, MI. 48221
                    (313) 863-7828

                    National Braille Press nbp.org

                    American Printing House for the Blind aph.org

                    There are additional Internet resources for Braille books as well
                    from loaning libraries. However, these copies could not be
                    given away to the children.

                    For Print: Amazon.com also is a great source for used book
                    copies when you need multiples. We usually obtain our print
                    copies from this source, purchasing new only when necessary.

                    You can also check with your library to see how many copies
                    are on hand in print as a back up if more people come than
                    expected, too.

Once you obtain copies of the books, distribute them to the attendees who signed
up via the postal system so they can read the book prior to the get together. (If it is
a short story of 30-40 pages or less, you may choose to just read the book at the
meeting, taking turns around the table so all children get a chance to read aloud.)

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Either way, you can come up with some questions about the book so as to reinforce
the children’s understanding. This way it lets everyone get a chance to talk. We
usually pass out little trinkets in appreciation of the children’s participation. Make
sure to give each child in attendance a giveaway gift. We’ve had particular fun
using Halloween eyeball trinkets that we purchased right after Halloween for half
price. Swishy balls, play doh, bells, etc. are also some of the other types of
giveaways we’ve provided.

The snacks have been chips or doughnuts with lemonade, apple juice, and water.
Preapproval from the library is critical. You have to place to clean the place up so
bring plastic tablecloths, paper towels, plates, cups, and garbage bag. Restore the
tables and chairs as necessary to their correct positions.

Take attendance at the get together as well as some group photographs for
inclusion into the Insights Newsletter. Be sure to thank the Library and its staff for
their assistance. Provide Insights with a short write up such as:




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SAMPLE
BRAILLE BUDDIES
Held on 11-3-07

Our most recent Braille Buddies get together was a successful gathering. It
was held at the Skokie Public Library on November 3, 2007 at 10:30 to 12:30.
The lively discussion of a book by Andrew Clements Things Not Seen was
marvelously led by Holly Jin who works for the Library. This wonderful
story is about Bobby, a teenage boy who becomes invisible for unknown
reasons. In trying to figure out his plight, he befriends Alicia, another
teenager, who was blinded two years earlier. The story is well written and the
plot fairs out well.

Great kudos are given to Holly as she provided Braille and print copies of a
fun trivia question list about the book. Those who guessed the right answers
on this multiple choice quiz game won fun toys. These tokens keep with our
vision theme and were items like “squishy eyeball key rings”, superballs
painted with eyes, and other “eye” paraphernalia toys.

Ms. Carolyn Thompson of the library arranged to provide fruit salad and
Erika Musser supplied her wonderful banana bread (which was still warm
from the oven). We had advertised for anyone to come and join us. We were
happy Sara joined our group. She was a very engaging 10-year old who had
read the book. She was looking for others who had and would like to talk
about it. The interaction between sighted kids and children with visual
impairments is always a rewarding experience for both parties, and we were
really glad she came.

Thank you, Holly, Carolyn and the Skokie Library for your continued efforts
to help make literacy fun for all children.

Our next Braille Buddies get together will be held south at the Frankfort
Public Library during the course of the first quarter. We thank the Frankfort
Lions Club for funding this next get together. Additional details will be
forthcoming in the next issues of IPVI Insights.




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