Kiwanis Club of Poznan Koziolki Poznanskie in Poland dedicates time and money to help blind and partially-sighted children realize their futures. Photos by Bartek Krupa
Several students at the Institute for Blind Children in Owinska, Poland, gather around the piano, singing and swaying back and forth as their teacher belts out a tune. Their smiles say it all: They’re happy here.
Much of their school day is filled with projects and materials supplied to them by the Kiwanis Club of Poznan Koziolki Poznanskie, which has been working with the school since 1998. All the students at the school are blind or partially-sighted, between 6 and 23 years of age.
“Students usually come from very poor families who often are not able to pay for food, clothes, school equipment and books, or even medicines,” says President Anna Maldzis.
The club recently was awarded a grant from the Kiwanis International Foundation for US$4,250 to help pay for services and projects designed specially for the students at the school.
There are 165 students, 125 who stay at the school year-round, who study in the primary school, gymnasium, high school or vocational school. The children also have the opportunity to learn about music, sports, tourism and computers. Students at the vocational school are trained in three trades: basket making, upholstery and knitting.
The Kiwanis grant helps purchase food, clothing, medicine and glasses, in addition to sport and rehabilitation equipment. The club also sponsors students on a canoe trip, purchases Christmas gifts for the children and works closely with the student choir, “Dzieci Papy,” buying recording equipment and T-shirts to wear during performances.
“Our main reason to support the institute is to give a chance to all these students who need help,” Maldzis says.
“Education in this institute is the best way for them toward a better future.”
The Institute for the Blind in Owinska, Poland, was founded in 1946 and is housed in a former Cistercian convent, which has existed since the 12th century. Students form close friendships while at the school, where they live under constant guardianship.
Above, student Sylwia celebrates her 21st birthday with her teacher and friends.
When it comes to studies, students at the institute learn everything from basic skills to German lessons to music.
Music students enjoy their time during the “Dzieci Papy” choir rehearsal. The choir is conducted by music teacher Henryk Wereda, who also is blind. Here, Basia plays the flute and Daria plays the piano, while fellow students sing and play along.
The institute offers a variety of enriching, hands-on activities during a typical day at school. A student plays acoustic table tennis to learn how to catch a ball by hearing it bounce on a table.
Rafal is all smiles as he participates in sensory therapy with therapist Monika Szych.
Students take part in all sorts of training and therapy at the school, including time spent in the gym practicing balance and coordination skills.
The institute uses many different techniques to help its students learn. A visual-stimulation device helps 6-year-old Kuba connect with the outside world.
Basia reads a typographic plan of her school’s town. Students oftentimes study such plans before venturing with a guide to practice walking in an outdoor, unfamiliar environment.
Using optical aids, an instructor guides Lidia through an exercise of eye tracking, numbers and color identification.
How would your club use a Kiwanis International Foundation grant to help the children of your community? Let us know in the comments.