Home Events + NewsEvents St. Joseph’s School for the Blind in Jersey City Is Hosting a Walk-A-Thon

St. Joseph’s School for the Blind in Jersey City Is Hosting a Walk-A-Thon

by Jordan and Joelle Hernandez
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St. Joseph’s School for the Blind has been a part of the Jersey City community for over 130 years. This educational institution is the state’s only school for students with visual impairments. After being forced to learn at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the students, faculty, and staff are excited to be back together again to continue learning and building relationships. St. Joseph’s will be hosting an in-person and virtual Walk-a-Thon on Friday, June 3rd. Read on to find out more about St. Joseph’s School for the Blind, located at 761 Summit Avenue in Jersey City, as well as how you can support its 2022 Walk-A-Thon.

st josephs school for the blind jersey city walk a thon 2022

(Photo credit: St. Joseph’s School for the Blind on Facebook)

According to the CDC, approximately 6.8% of children in the United States have a diagnosed eye or vision with approximately 3% being blind or visually impaired. Visually impaired is defined as severe trouble seeing even with glasses or corrective lenses. Often, children experiencing visual impairment have difficulty performing daily tasks and have difficulties learning to read and write, which can have life-long implications. Here in New Jersey, St. Joseph’s School for the Blind provides opportunities to learn, interact, play and develop skills needed for a successful and independent lifestyle.

The History

St. Joseph School for the Blind had humble beginnings. What is now a 75,000-square-foot facility started in a rented home in Jersey City in 1891. What was then called St. Joseph’s Home for the Blind was operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. By 1921, enrollment had grown, and the Home was split into two parts — a home and a school.

St. Joseph’s School for the Blind served children while the home continued to serve adults. In 1960, the school began accepting students who were visually impaired along with additional disabilities to meet a growing need that remained unmet by other programs. By 1996, Concordia House was opened. Concordia House is an expanded home for students to learn independence skills in a residential setting. Since 2007, St. Joseph’s School for the Blind has been located at a state-of-the-art facility on Summit Avenue in Jersey City and remains the state’s only facility specifically designed for students with visual impairment.

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Opportunity to Learn

The students at St. Joseph’s School for the Blind range in age from 3 to 21, and babies from birth to three years old can be enrolled in the Early Intervention Program. When walking into the school, visitors can feel the love and pride the faculty, staff, and students have for the community that has been built.

Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, technology played a large role in keeping students engaged in the curriculum and continuing to learn. Developmental stages are taken into consideration at the school. The Early Intervention Program from birth to age three gives educators, specialists, and families the opportunity to provide instruction in the areas of vision stimulation, sensory integration, and self-help skills in a natural setting. The teachers work closely with the family to then transition the student to the most appropriate preschool program for the student’s needs.

At age three, students are enrolled in the main school. The mission of the school is to promote each student’s ability to learn, work, and live in the least restrictive environment possible. At the age of 21, individuals are eligible to enroll in Adult Services. This mission of the school continues by enriching lives through the acquisition and practice of necessary life skills.

Life Without Limits

Living a fulfilling and enriching life is the goal for all students at St. Joseph’s School for the Blind. The school has a Structured Learning Experience (SLE) that is offered for older students. Through this program, the school has partnered with local establishments like Liberty Science Center, McDonald’s, York Street Project, Helen’s Pizza, The Reservoir Firehouse, and more to provide vocational opportunities.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students have been working out of their homes, but they are excited to get back into their daily activities in-person. Some of the other skills taught as students reach the Adult Program are meal preparation, job training skills, and independent living skills. Every program is meant to allow the students to improve their quality of life.

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The Walk-a-Thon

Many of the programs provided by St. Joseph’s School for the Blind are made possible by fundraising. While tuition and fees cover about 80% of the total operating costs, programs and resources made possible by generous donors are what allow the students to thrive.

St. Joseph’s School for the Blind is proud to put on its 14th Annual Walk-A-Thon on June 3rd, 2022. Students are encouraged to walk and roll toward independence on this day of outdoor fun. This year’s event will be held using a hybrid model. In-person walking begins at the school at 9:30AM (located at 761 Summit Avenue) and will conclude at Pershing Park where there will be music by DJs Amia & Kayla, games, and fun. The event will be streamed live both on Facebook and Instagram.

Virtual participants are encouraged to share their walks at home via social media to raise awareness for the cause. Donations can be made to the school in honor of the Walk-a-Thon to help raise funds for necessary programs by clicking the link here. In addition to supporting the school through the Walk-a-Thon, St. Joseph’s School for the Blind has opportunities for individuals looking to volunteer. To learn more about becoming a volunteer, click here.

St. Joseph’s School for the Blind has served thousands of students throughout its long history. The opportunities and resources provided by the school are made possible by the generosity of the community.

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