Blind and Visually Impaired Students Lend Firefighters Helping Hand

Blind and Visually Impaired Students Lend Firefighters Helping Hand

Posted on Sep.22, 2009, by , under Inspirational Stories


Eight years ago, a nation watched as hundreds of New York’s bravest made the ultimate sacrifice to help those in need.

Since then, a group of students at one Villa Park middle school has helped raise money each year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for their local fire department, while at the same time learning about the men and women that would come to the rescue in the event of a fire.

Students in the blind and visually impaired program at Albright Middle School in Villa Park spent part of their time in summer school making everything and anything patriotic, including American flag pillows, patriotic bracelets, and red, white and blue fans to sell to students, faculty and staff during two lunch periods today.

The school is part of Salt Creek School District 48, where the visually impaired program consists of more than 50 students. About 15 of the students were in the summer school program, and almost all of them participated in helping make the crafts.

Cindy Rukavina, a teacher in the Albright program, said the students have been doing crafts each summer since 2002, and have made nearly 50 different crafts to sell this year. Rukavina said the crafts not only assist with developing skills, but also help the students learn about what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as what firefighters do for the community.

“It’s our way to honor our local firemen who put their lives on the line every day,” Rukavina said. “They would give up their own life to help our own kids, especially the vision-impaired kids who need extra help. … We feel it’s our duty to do something nice for them.”

Later this month, Villa Park firefighters will come to Albright to pick up the money raised by the craft sale. Last year, the sale raised more than $180. Villa Park firefighter/paramedic Matt Sauter said the department uses the money to purchase hats, stickers, and other items to give to children during speeches about fire prevention.

“One of the best fire prevention techniques in the fire service is giving away handouts and educating kids and parents,” Sauter said. “Giving them the opportunity to know that someone will be there and to trust us if we yell to follow us in the event of a fire is important. … It’s good to reassure them we’re going to take care of them if we’re needed.”

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