"I have Envision to thank for transforming me from someone who was insecure and shy to someone who is confident and proud of who they are."
Hashim Syed's journey with Envision began at the age of ten, a pivotal chapter initiated by the challenging diagnosis of Retinal Detachment at just nine years old. This condition, which caused vision loss, could have defined him, but Envision became a beacon of positivity and transformation in his life.
Shortly after he was diagnosed, Hashim’s family began to receive letters from Envision, introducing him to programs tailored for blind and visually impaired youth—Heather’s Camp and Level Up. Heather’s Camp, an annual summer camp, aims not just to create a safe space but to redefine inclusivity and fun. Level Up, an innovative summer technology program, bridges the educational gap between blind or visually impaired students and their sighted peers, equipping them with assistive technology and leadership skills for the journey ahead.
Hashim remembers being initially hesitant with fear at the thought of his visual impairment taking center stage. Yet, with unwavering encouragement from his parents, he decided to attend Envision programs for the first time in the sixth grade. "I was very fearful of my visual impairment," Hashim reflected, "but I gained a huge support system in those first two years."
After a hiatus, Hashim returned during his freshman year of high school. As he matured, so did his confidence. What was once a fear of being defined by his visual impairment, transformed into a profound sense of belonging. Envision became more than a program; it became a community where he could form bonds and make friends.
Two important moments stand out in his journey—meeting peers of the same Pakistani heritage at Level Up, which allowed him to connect on a level deeper with friends and interact with people from diverse cultures, and a transformative music workshop at Level Up that sparked a passion for playing the ukulele and guitar. He attributes both moments to shaping his empathy and igniting a passion for helping others be confident in their abilities.
Now a sophomore at Wichita State University, majoring in communications with a minor in sociology, Hashim has come full circle. He's a mentor for the Level Up program, guiding students in assistive technologies, social and leadership skills, and fostering their confidence and independence. His vision extends beyond personal success; he envisions a future where he creates spaces for others to feel comfortable and capable.
Recently, Hashim took center stage at the 2023 Evening with Envision Gala as a speaker and an entertainer, playing his guitar throughout the evening. He was able to speak to a crowd of Envision donors and supporters, sharing his journey with Envision.
When asked how Envision has impacted his life, Hashim responded,
"Envision has given me the confidence to feel comfortable with my visual impairment and the passion to support others through their own struggles. I have become humble, and I enjoy seeing other people’s growth. I have found passion and purpose in helping others, and I have Envision to thank for opening that door for me and transforming me from someone who was insecure and shy to someone who is confident and proud of who they are.”