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Introducing Birds to Blind Children
Resources for the Blind

Introducing Birds to Blind Children
Resources for the Blind
Cubao, Quezon City
March 10, 2009

Mel Tan letting the blind touch the Brahminy Kite  Tinggay Cinco hosting the bird call contest
Mel Tan letting the blind touch the Brahminy Kite (left) and Tinggay Cinco hosting the bird call contest (right)

"The children will remember this all their lives." This was the comment made by Randy Weisser, Director, Resources for the Blind, on the two-hour birding presentation made by WBCP members to around 25 visually impaired pre-school children and their parents yesterday, 10 March.

The children, good listeners, responded quickly and correctly to check-up questions at the end of each section of the presentation. They mimed bird movements. They passed their hands - some eagerly, some in fear, but always with curiosity - over birds, wooden, stuffed and real, to trace their shapes and feel their feathers, beaks, legs and toes. They realized that the Sunbird was "Maliit" and the Egret "Malaki" when they fingered the bamboo sticks passed around to indicate bird sizes. And they squealed "Buhay!" when they touched a live hen, a rooster, a White-bellied Sea Eagle and a Brahminy Kite.

Felix Servita letting the blind feel the difference between a chicken egg and a quail egg
Felix Servita letting the blind feel the difference
between a chicken egg and a quail egg

Touching was very much part of the children's birding experience. So was smelling, tapping on the floor and, most of all, listening. They had sharp ears, and were able to reproduce almost immediately the call of each of the nine birds presented to them. Their imitation of the call of the White-browed Shama was especially touching. Their memories were good, too. About 15 children participated in the name-the-bird contest at the end of the session and they identified the birds correctly, with the fastest in each group receiving a prize, courtesy of the WBCP Execom.

All the children received a little gift, also from the Execom, at the end of the day. Those who got the toy birds that squeaked had the birds glued to their ears as they filed out of the room.

The WBCP members present were: Tinggay Cinco and Arnel Telesforo, event animators-presenters; Mel Tan, who brought along PAWB's live and stuffed birds; Tere Cervero, Felix Servita, Leni Sutcliffe, who had the time of their lives passing the props around from child to child; and Kitty Arce-Aspelin and Mattias who gave us moral support.

For the WBCP members, the experience and the enthusiasm with which it was received were rewards in themselves. They have a tentative invitation to present a similar event at one of the summer camps of the school's older children.

Arcy Salvacion of My Zoo Foundation with a White-bellied Sea-Eagle  Arnel Telesforo engaged the blind kids with his lively talk
Arcy Salvacion of My Zoo Foundation with a White-bellied Sea-Eagle (left) and Arnel Telesforo engaged the blind kids with his lively talk (right)

Thanks are due to Arcy of MyZoo for helping to bring in the live birds; to Lee Pigar, Pre-School Director, for organizing the school premises and for so ably overseeing the children during the presentation itself, and to Randy for making the event possible.