April Bennett and two of her boys, 3-year-old Peter and 5-year-old Joel, piled into the car and drove all the way from Seattle for Saturday’s beeping Easter egg hunt at the Washington State School for the Blind.
“Last year we really noticed Peter had a hard time with Easter egg hunts,” Bennett said of her second-youngest, who is visually impaired and walks with a probing cane. “Just kinda got trampled by, you know, all the kids. There was so much going on he couldn’t see very well.”
She’d heard of these kind of hunts, where kids can root out special-made beeping eggs, and when one of Peter’s teachers mentioned Saturday’s hunt in Vancouver, she figured it might be worth the trip.
“And he had a blast,” she said. ” ‘I can hear them! I can hear them!’ ”
Bennett said she was familiar with the Northwest Association for Blind Athletes, which hosted the event, as they’ve been talking to them to learn what they can do to help Peter learn to ride a bike.
It was the association’s fifth time holding the hunt. Along with the kids and their sighted siblings hunting eggs, there were treats, arts and crafts, the Easter bunny and an appearance from local celebrity llamas Smokey and Rojo, of Mtn Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas.
Stacey Gibbins, the blind athletes group’s program director, said the event is partly about getting young visually impaired kids into their programs, which have sports and activities for young children up to seniors.
“It’s a great way to connect with really young families, maybe families that haven’t been exposed to other families who have a child who’s blind,” she said. “Families that maybe have gone through the same thing that you’re going through right now. Families supporting families.”
Bennett said there’s the community of children and families in Peter’s special education programs, but she’s not sure whether any of his peers have a visual impairment.
“So it’s kind of fun when you come here and he goes, ‘They have canes, too!’ ” she said.
Another mom approached her with questions for her child about using a cane.
“So already I was able to share with someone else,” Bennett said. “That is kind of a neat thing about when we get together. All the moms talk and learn from each other.”