Visually impaired children meet Santa at holiday celebration

- The sights of the holidays hold special memories for many, but for blind and visually impaired children, the holidays can have a different impact on the senses.

This year, the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research (LEITR) held a special event for a group of almost 100 children who do not perceive the world with their eyes. The students met with Santa and were given presents designed specifically for touch and sound.

Students made snowmen and reindeer from materials of different textures.

"The craft room is special, in that all of those crafts have been modified or just specially selected so that they're hand on and ready to go for a child who may not see well," explained Tiffany Conrad from the Visually Impaired Program of Hillsborough County Schools.

Students also made and read braille cards to Santa, their parents and friends.

Parent Tierra Ponder said this event is one her child was looking forward to.

"It's like their own little group club. That way they can feel comfortable and accept that everybody's the same," Ponder said. "I love that they do with the children here, to make them feel special."

The students are all a part of Hillsborough County's Very Important People who are Visually Impaired People (VIP2) program. LEITR donated a Christmas tree to one of the children’s families, too.

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