SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Students at Eugene Field Elementary in Sioux Falls are getting a special lesson about overcoming obstacles as part of White Cane Safety Day. The “white cane” is a symbol of independence for the blind and visually impaired.
Student teacher Ally McFarland goes through life every day with no peripheral vision in her left eye and no central vision in her right because of a condition called hydrocephalus.
“When I was 11, that tubing broke and caused pressure on my optic nerves because of the build up of fluid. So I have permanent optic atrophy,” McFarland said.
The University of Sioux Falls senior isn’t letting those challenges slow her down. In fact, she’s showing her kids at Eugene Field how to break through barriers on White Cane Safety Day.
“Their cane is a symbol of independence. So we want to celebrate the accomplishments of people who are blind and visually impaired and to just show that they are capable of achieving anything they want to,” McFarland said.
Fifth-grader Akina Swensen is impressed by McFarland’s story and excited to have her student teaching in her classroom.
“I think that takes a lot of courage to do that and I think that she is very brave in doing that,” Swensen said.
It’s a lesson everyone can take to heart.
“I think that should teach kids that even if they have some sort of a disability, they should still be brave and follow their dreams,” Swensen said.
“I just want kids to be able to approach a visually-impaired person with respect and just not feel that they need to treat them a certain way. We are all unique and that’s a strength, not a weakness,” McFarland said.
McFarland wants to be a teacher for the blind and visually impaired when she’s done with school.