BELL – Helping Blind Children Learn Braille

Posted on July 6, 2015Leave a comment

The Fairfax Host Lions Club recently welcomed Nancy Yeager to speak about the National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL). The BELL program began in 2008 in Maryland. Last year there were two BELL programs in the state of Virginia, one in Richmond and one in Northern Virginia. Six students attended the 2-week Northern Virginia BELL program last summer. Due to the success of last year’s program, there will be four BELL camps this year. The two new program sites will be located in the Tidewater area. The program has grown exponentially and this summer the Bell Program will be held in twenty-nine states across the country.

The BELL program provides children, ages four through twelve, with two weeks of concentrated Braille instruction through fun, hands-on learning. This program is for all blind children who could benefit from Braille enrichment over the summer. This includes low-vision children, children who have recently lost their vision, children who have been blind since birth, and children who have additional disabilities.

The program is designed to run Monday through Friday for approximately seven hours each day. Not only do the students learn how to read Braille they also develop daily life skills such as cooking, cutting, money counting, reading and writing. They also learn to draw, color and do other arts and crafts. Most of these children have never drawn or colored a picture before. Each day also includes a physical activity or game, such as red light/green light, Frisbee and some sort of ball game. They played these games like sighted children except: they use canes when playing red light/green light; use a beeping Frisbee, and use a ball with a bell inside of it. At BELL, learning doesn’t stop for lunch.

Children make their own sandwiches of meat, cheese or peanut butter and jelly. They learn to spread condiments and cut their sandwiches. In addition to braille crafts, games and other engaging projects, children may also enjoy field trips related to the BELL curriculum. One or two trips are provided for each program. One trip takes the students to a local deli after a lesson on identifying paper and coin money. Each child uses his/her cane to walk to the deli. The children order their own lunch at the counter and then pay for it with money provided by the program.

The second trip is a horseback riding adventure. The children have an opportunity to check out the saddles and actually take a short ride with the assistance of the owner of the horse farm. Needless to say, the horseback riding is the favorite activity offered by BELL. At the end of the program, there is a graduation, where the children serve lunch to their parents and other guests, followed by a short closing ceremony.

Regardless of the financial situation of the parents, the NFB wants all blind and visually impaired children to have the opportunity to participate in the BELL program. With the help of the Lions organization, the program here in Virginia will continue. To learn more about the NFB BELL program, visit Should you wish further information about this valuable program, or wish to make an individual contribution, please contact the NOVA BELL Program Coordinator, Nancy Yeager, at or by phone at (703) 283-2524.

THANK YOU for Supporting July 4th Food Booth – Fairfax City Parade

Posted on July 4, 2015Leave a comment

lions - July 4 2015 food boothFolks enjoying a hot dog on July 4th

Despite a rainy morning, the weather cleared for a wonderful July 4th parade in Fairfax City.  Many folks stopped by the Lions food booth for a hot dog, soda and chips.  The Lions thank you for your support.  This is one of our fund raisers – with ALL PROCEEDS going directly to serve your community! Please read more about our service programs on this web page.  We want you to visit our club – we will involve you right away in service which you will find very rewarding.

Lion of the Year

Posted on June 17, 20151 Comment

Lion of the yearLion of the Year Marty Lockhard (L) is recognized by Lions President Mike Schutz (R)

Each year, the Fairfax Lions Club President selects one deserving member to be recognized as Lion of the Year.  On June 16, Lion Marty Lockard was recognized for his overeall enthusiasm and effort serving our community, and his work – as a new member – to initiate vision screening for the clients at the Lamb Center. Lions conduct the screenings with state-of-the art-equipment. Congratulations Marty for being named our Lion of the Year!

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