Realising potential – celebrating the achievements of young people with sight loss

Post date: 
Friday, 22 June 2018

Two women riding segways with two women in the background holding a board reading the Realise Project

Realising potential – celebrating the achievements of young people with sight loss

“The project has been amazing in every way, it has given my child the skills and experience for a better future.”— Parent
Over the last five years more than 300 blind and partially sighted young people, between the ages of eight and 25, have taken part in RNIB’s ‘Realise Project’. The project aims to support young people as they approach critical transitional stages in their lives, such as entering school, further education or the employment market. 
Through activities such as participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme, touch typing, technology workshops, residentials and work placements, the young people build confidence, craft new skills, make new friendships and grow their independence.
On Wednesday 20 June, many of young people who took part in the project, along their families, came together at the Jungle Centre at the foot of the Sperrin Mountains to reflect on what has been achieved:
One of the speakers at the event was 15-year-old Leah Taylor: 

“Over my years with RNIB and the Realise Project, I have learnt that the more confident and supported young people feel, the more likely they are to make good decisions that will help them excel in life. And it’s not just individuals who benefit from this support but families friend and the community too. Being part of the Realise Project has been amazing.”

Across Northern Ireland 2,346 children and young people live with sight loss. They face many obstacles to participating fully in society with almost half feeling 'moderately' or 'completely' cut off from people and things around them.  
Rosaleen Dempsey, Children and Families Service Manager at RNIB commented: “The Realise Project has skilled up our young people and given them the confidence to recognise their potential and advocate for themselves. Now RNIB must work in partnership with others to raise awareness of sight loss and to build a more equal society where the barriers to young people with sight loss are removed completely.”
A key aim of the Realise Project was to increase awareness and understanding of sight loss among sighted children, young people and education/youth professionals. As a result, RNIB staff delivered visual awareness training to well over 2,000 pupils, teachers and youth workers over the period of the project. 
The Realise Project was funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Empowering Young People programme.