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Pre-schoolers graduate from Downtown school for the blind

Miguel Rodriguez before his pre-school graduation at MetroTech Downtown on June 21.
Brooklyn Paper
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More than a dozen pre-schoolers graduated from a Downtown school for the blind on June 21.

The 16 pint-sized scholars accepted diplomas from Helen Keller Services for the Blind’s Children’s Learning Center, donning tiny caps and gowns as teary-eyed moms and dads cheered them on at National Grid’s MetroTech Center auditorium, according to the organization’s chief.

“They were excited, they were engaged — they really were delightful, energetic and ready to embrace what comes next,” said Kim Zimmer, president and chief executive officer at Helen Keller Services.

The graduates persevered through blindness and other disabilities to achieve scholastic success, according to Zimmer.

Prospect Lefferts Gardens graduate Miguel Rodriguez has a complicated medical history, and was unable to walk when he enrolled at the Livingstone Street school in 2017. He’s since outgrown his wheelchair, and now lives to run, Zimmer said.

His peer Kevin Chen was born with severe loss of vision and limited peripheral vision due to suffering from Leber Congenital Amaurosis, an inherited retinal degenerative disease.

The Bensonhurst boy is now able to read large print books and can identify colors. He’s since learned to move independently and safely, and he will attend Bay Ridge elementary school PS 102 in the fall.

Teaching the pupils independence for their specific situation is key to Helen Keller’s mission, according to Zimmer.

“A degree of social skills, a level of independence that may be unique to them but is specific to them at their life stage,” she said.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 5:20 pm, June 25, 2019
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