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Life Lessons: Helping kids see

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 29 2013 04:00:00 AM CDT

Life Lessons Helping kids see

A young woman practically blind from birth is doing things that amaze and inspire those around her, especially the younger ones. She's helping other kids see what they can achieve.

The braille club at Forest Lakes Elementary School in Florida meets every few months.

The visually impaired children delve into dots of dialogue, but the highlight of their day? Michelle Yongue. She's their braille mentor and she's legally blind.

"Given her challenges, she overcomes them," says Susan Yongue, Michelle's sister.

The 15-year-old honors student was born with rod-cone dystrophy. Her vision was never perfect and it gets worse and worse every year. She only sees shades of color and can't decipher details, so she relies on her imagination and visual memory.

"I've done all these things and it kind of shows that you can do anything if you kind of put your mind to it," says Michelle Yongue, a visually impaired student and mentor at Forest Lakes Elementary School.

When Michelle was in elementary school, she says she didn't want to learn braille or use her cane. Now she wants to be a doctor.

Michelle says, "I had to realize that if I wanted to be independent I had to do these things and really go out there and try it."

Forest Lakes Elementary School teacher Andrea Wallace says the vision students need each other to stay focused. Michelle is their inspiration.

"It's really important they have mentors and older students that they can look up to," says Wallace.

"I can function the same way as a perfectly sighted kid can do," concludes Michelle.

Michelle says she has an iPad, iPhone, and computer. They have screen readers which read everything on the screen, but pictures can still be a challenge.