Envision Hosts Annual Level Up Conference For High School Students Who Are Blind Or Visually Impaired

June 25, 2018
Wichita, Kan. – Envision announced today that it will hold its annual Level Up High School Conference at Wichita State University Tuesday, June 26 through Sunday, July 1.  
Fifty-seven high school students who are blind or visually impaired representing seven states will participate in the program, attending sessions relating to art, music, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), interpersonal and self-advocacy skills, career planning and other topics, as well as a College, Career and Resource Expo. Free computers and assistive technology will be made available to participants as well as training to help master both.
“This program continues to grow both in number of participants and supporters and in the depth and breadth of the curriculum,” said Bonnie Cochran, director of Support Programs at Envision. “We are delighted to see it embraced so broadly, proud to see the impact it is making on so many promising lives and driven to find even more ways to ensure the brightest possible future for youth with visual impairments.”
The Level Up Conference has a packed six-day agenda, including more than 50 hours of sessions and activities intended to empower participants and imbue them with the academic, personal fitness, professional and personal skills they will need to succeed in college and careers. Technology-focused jobs in coding, robotics, programming, aeronautics and other areas are a particular focus of the agenda.
The program kicks off with an inspirational speech on Tuesday by Jessica Loomer, a Boston Marathon runner and research administration coordinator for clinical trials at the University of Arizona’s Health Sciences Department. Loomer, who went blind blind at age 27, will also take part in a workshop on “Empowering Your Presence” later that evening, and returns Wednesday to help present “Find Your Fit; Find Your Balance; Run Your Race.” The program concludes on Sunday with a concert open to the public featuring nationally acclaimed acoustic musicians Wayne Pearcy on trumpet and Cliff Schmitt on bass who combine limited eyesight with limitless talent.
Launched 13 years ago, Level Up has served hundreds of students from around the country who were nominated to attend by their school districts’ Teachers of the Visually Impaired. Participants learn the value of self-expression, critical thinking, discovery and exploration through one-to-one interaction with mentors from the Wichita business community, Kansas-area educators and Envision staff. A related program targeted toward middle school students with vision loss was held May 29-June 2 at Butler Community College, welcoming 36 participants from four states.
The 2018 Level Up Conference is made possible through support from presenting sponsor High Touch Technologies, Cox Communications, Wells Fargo and the Monsanto Fund.
“Level Up is a game changer for so many, breaking down barriers and opening doors to higher education, jobs and career advancement,” said Heather Hogan, senior vice president of Foundation & Mission Services at Envision “It’s a great example of the employment component of our mission – one we couldn’t offer without the generous support of our program sponsors.”
For more information about the Level Up Program and to purchase tickets to the July 1 concert, go to www.envisionus.com/levelup.
About Envision: Envision promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision. Founded in 1933, Envision is one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation. Headquartered in Wichita, Kan., Envision’s mission is to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research. For more information, visit www.envisionus.com.

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