Braille Institute Announces 17th Annual Braille Challenge Competition Winners

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On Saturday, June 17, competitors from the United States and Canada met in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California (USC) for the 17th Annual Braille Challenge® Finals Competition, the only national reading and writing contest in braille for students who are blind and visually impaired. Sponsored by Braille Institute, the Braille Challenge is an academic competition designed to motivate students and emphasize their study of braille, while rewarding their success with fun-filled, challenging events. Knowing that braille literacy is essential for success of youth with low to no vision, Braille Institute developed the two-stage annual competition to encourage school-age children to fine tune their braille skills and celebrate their accomplishments. This year more than 1,100 braille readers participated in one of 51 preliminary regional events across the US and Canada.

“The Braille Challenge is a hallmark program for Braille Institute and our donors as it focuses on braille literacy, while supporting children with vision loss in communities across the country and in Canada to strengthen their academic skills and develop life-long friendships,” said Peter Mindnich, President, Braille Institute. “This year, by bringing the event to the campus of USC, we created real life opportunities for the best of the best braille readers and writers to experience life on a college campus. This is especially important because statistics show that many children who are blind or visually impaired struggle to make the leap to secondary education. Through the Braille Challenge we see participants blossom knowing that they can accomplish anything they set out to do.”

Understanding how essential braille literacy is for success in the sighted world, Braille Institute developed the two-phase, annual competition as a way to encourage children who are blind and visually impaired to fine tune their braille skills and celebrate their accomplishments.

“This year, by moving the Braille Challenge to the USC campus, we were able to offer the 50 finalists and their families their first taste of what college life will be for them,” said Sergio Oliva, MPA, Director, Programs and Services at Braille Institute. “Our ‘Braille Challenge Village’ on campus experience helped to demystify higher education and foster discussion about a successful high school transition to college.”


2017 WINNERS OF THE BRAILLE CHALLENGE

FIRST PLACE
Apprentice Carmynn Blakely, Louisville, KY
Freshman Brooke Petro, Leawood, KS
Sophomore Audrey Bethay, Prairie Village, KS
Junior Varsity Julia LaGrand, Grand Rapids, MI
Varsity Mitchell Bridwell, Pittsboro, IN

SECOND PLACE
Apprentice Miles Lima, Manteca, CA
Freshman Emily Groves, Bettendorf, IA
Sophomore Ciara Peterson, Tucson, AZ
Junior Varsity Kaleigh Brendle, Freehold, NJ
Varsity Luther Fuller, Lawrence, KS

THIRD PLACE
Apprentice Hunter Kelly, Claremore, OK
Freshman Christopher Morgan, Lithia Springs, GA
Sophomore Sujan Dhakal, Glen Burnie, MD
Junior Varsity Christopher Abel, Acworth, GA
Varsity Cricket Bidleman, Morro Bay, CA

TEACHER OF THE YEAR SPELLING
Jacinda Danner, Palmer, Alaska Brooke Petro

HARLEY FETTERMAN AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN CHARTS & GRAPHS
Richelle Zampella


0012 Braille Institute is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate barriers to a fulfilling life caused by blindness and severe sight loss. It serves thousands of adults and youth each year through a broad range of educational, social and recreational programs designed to help people with vision loss lead enriched and fulfilling lives. For more information, visit BrailleInstitute.org, on twitter @BrailleInst or on Facebook at Facebook.com/BrailleInstitute