See Life Differently: An Interview with Alice Applebaum
Anchor Center for Blind Children is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching visually impaired infants, young children and their families, while providing hope and a nurturing environment where children reach their highest potential.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt from Anchor Center children?
AA: First, I think to accept people for who they are – their character – and not make judgments about how people look. The children know if they are being respected or if someone is kind. They also know if someone is mean or unkind. Seeing and knowing are not necessarily done with one’s eyes.
Second, that life is joyful. Just like all children they bring great joy to our days and our lives.
Share some of the little and big things the Anchor Center children have accomplished that keep you inspired, motivated?
AA: The “little” things are laughing every day, making friends, some of the things they say, their sense of wonder and curiosity, and the daily “moments” that lend themselves to smiles, to tears – to stories. The “big” stuff is everyone’s big stuff – being brave, taking chances, venturing out beyond our comfort zones and learning from our mistakes.
What’s been the most critical key to building consistent success stories for Anchor Center children?
AA: Knowing that whatever we do today impacts what and who the children will become tomorrow. I can never praise our talented staff enough (past and present) for all they know and how they teach and treat the children and their families. Every single thing we do has a purpose and hopefully it’s fun and playful. Learning to drink from a cup today will mean being able to successfully make a toast at a wedding; learning manners and how to have a conversation with their friends will lead to successful friendships as adults; planting the seeds in the garden and harvesting the vegetables and flowers is a profound lesson. Everything starts with seeds, literal or figurative, and the outcome is dependent not only upon the children, but so very much on the adults who give them a chance to become independent every step of the way.
Anchor Center children truly ‘see life differently’…..how have they changed your perspective as well?
AA: Probably much like they’ve changed most peoples’ perspectives. Anyone who spends time here is a little surprised that this is such a joyful, happy place. Children are children. The children have taught us that there are so many ways to look at the world. Of course by using our other senses – paying attention to how something feels or smells or tastes. That’s the “literal” answer. But what it always comes back to is how we treat others and allow others to treat us. What kinds of relationships do we want to have and what kind of people do we want to be?