BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL – Having limited sight didn’t limit a group of teens from swimming, wresting, running and shooting rifles.
Teens between 12 and 18 years of age attended last week’s sports camp conducted by the Utah Federation for the Blind.
Students from all over the state participate in the camp, where they are given an opportunity to try a variety of sports Р even those that may seem impossible for those whose sight is limited.
“We work them really, really hard,” said Tony Jepson, executive director of the federation. “It’s a new experience, a good exposure for them.”
While some of the students are totally blind, others have partial sight. Some see better in the day or at night and some are losing their sight.
“It’s good for visually impaired kids to have that exposure,” said Peyton Barber, a student. “I mean to try everything once.”
During the day, the teens can choose between four different sports to try out.
On one of the evenings each year, students at the camp are hosted by the Bountiful City Jeep Posse Search and Rescue at the Bountiful Lions’ Shooting Range, where they pull the trigger on a .22 rifle aimed at a range of targets.
“It’s exhilarating to actually be able to shoot a gun and know I’ll be able to hit something,” said Tynysha Faletau. “It’s kind of a rush.”
This is Tynysha’s fourth year at the camp. She said her experience at a sports camp gave her the confidence to run track at school.
“You learn you don’t have to let it be an obstacle for you,” she said of her limited sight. “There are always accommodations.”
At 11 stations along the range, students are matched with members of the jeep posse, who then help them feel the guns and bullets, set the guns on rests and bean bags, and then line them up with the targets. After 10 rounds, the shooting stops and they are guided out to check the targets.
“Usually they’re pretty nervous the first time because they haven’t been exposed to it,” said Jepson. “But they come up here and have the opportunity to shoot and experience it and they learn it doesn’t need to be dangerous if it’s done correctly.”
Kari Fredrickson is an orientation and mobility specialist at the Utah School for the Blind and has participated in the sports camps for 10 years.
“It builds self esteem,” said Fredrickson. “They discover they can do a lot of this stuff if they try. They can be on a swim team at school because they discover they can do that. In the end they realize they can do it. They can achieve something.”