But for little ones who are visually impaired, it can be a world of scary obstacles that can ultimately impact the child’s development.
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CBS2’s Jessica Moore shows how a gift of a special cane can change these youngster’s lives.
Jorge Alcantarez is 3, and the hope is the device will change his life. It’s a special cane developed for children between the ages of 1-5 who are blind or seriously visually impaired.
“Safety is everything to learning,” said Dr. Grace Ambrose-Zaken, professor of orientation and mobility at Hunter College.
She’s one of the developers of the toddler cane.
“When you feel safe, you build self confidence, your start doing your natural exploring, interacting with the world,” she said. “When they put this on, it immediately communicates ‘clear path, go.’ Then it tells them ‘there’s something in my way,’ I’ll stop, I’ll turn, I’ll investigate.”
The cane, developed in conjunction with City College, looks deceptively simple. There’s a waistband to hold it in place on the toddler, and it’s lightweight to maneuver easily, without the challenge for a young child to use a traditional cane.
“You can be born just blind, but then you start not achieving. For instance, first it’s motor, concepts language and social skills,” Ambrose-Zaken said.
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Jorge’s dad is grateful for this important opportunity being given to his son.
“I try the best for him. I pray every day. I gotta be patient,” he said.
The family is currently homeless and the cane has been donated. They cost $625, but are given free to families in need. About 1,200 toddler canes have been given out so far.
“Gives the child the opportunity to be independent. Gives them freedom. Gives them the opportunity to live a life,” said Tara Olson, an occupational therapist with Vision Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired.
Olson says she sees a lot of promise in young Jorge to master the toddler cane.
“He need opportunity for a better life,” Jorge’s dad said.
And hopefully, with is new cane, the path will be that much easier for this little boy.
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Donations help pay for canes for families who cannot afford them. Click here to learn more.