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White Cane Day Celebration Planned at PHS
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
04:03PM / Saturday, October 01, 2022
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The school district will recognize White Cane Day at Pittsfield High School in two weeks with an event to celebrate the accomplishments of visually impaired people.

On Friday, Oct. 14, students of all ages with visual impairments will participate in activities, join a virtual presentation through the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, walk to City Hall to be greeted by Mayor Linda Tyer, and have lunch at PHS's culinary restaurant.

The national day of awareness is on Oct. 15 and has been celebrated since 1964. The cane is an essential tool used by this population to move around freely and safely.

"It’s a day to really recognize the accomplishments and the independent skills of those that are visually impaired," Lynn Shortis, a schoolteacher for the visually impaired, said about White Cane Day.

The event will run from about 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and include around 50 people. Students from the Gateway Regional School District in Huntington will also join.

Shortis said people who are blind or visually impaired can do anything they want to do and it is important to present this. She is in her 23rd year with the school district and has seen a great deal of success with the students over the years.

There are about 35 visually impaired students in the district right now.  Several are high achievers with straight As and many former students have continued on to college.

"It's all a matter of what people's perception is," she explained. "So we try to educate the public on just the overall perception."

The district has a great relationship with the state Commission for the Blind, she said, and it does a lot for the students and to make Pittsfield more aware.

Shortis said the event is really to give the kids an empowering moment to be themselves and feel proud and important. It will also allow the students to meet and bond over shared experiences, as the pandemic has previously hindered gatherings.

Additionally, she said it is important to highlight the visually impaired in Pittsfield, as the city is often forgotten because it is the farthest west in the state.

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