Mini 'city' gives visually impaired preschoolers new way to lear - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Mini 'city' gives visually impaired preschoolers new way to learn

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) A new, miniature 'city' could change the way visually impaired preschoolers nationwide learn how to physically navigate later in life. It's all made possible by a local union that took notice.

Addyson Clarkson, 5, attends Visually Impaired Preschool Services. The school attracts families from across the nation with infants, toddlers and preschoolers, providing a can-do attitude. 

However, apparently, there was still room to grow. "There was a falling down privacy fence around a dumpster. It was yard, nothing," Nick Reid, Community Service Coordinator of UAW-Ford Local 862. 

Members like Reid wanted to make the school their next community service project. "We started this, we thought we're just going to build a few ramps, see how it goes," Reid said. "Then we looked at this and thought why not. The sky's the limit."

The make-believe intersection features real traffic lights, a sidewalk and fire hydrant and other sights that most take for granted in a regular city.

"I think it will definitely make a difference in her progress. Just that early exposure is key for these kiddos and getting the opportunity to explore areas that their families might not feel comfortable with for them exploring a street curb and learning the depth of it. Here, they have that opportunity, they can carry it across multiple settings," Ashley Emmons said of Visually Impaired Preschool Services. 

"These kids are five or six-years-old. When they are finally ready for the public world and they're on their own," Reid said. "They're going to encounter this."

One year and about $100,000 later, the mobility city is changing the way kids like Addy learn.

"We all have a soft spot and anytime you see a kid you want to do something, you want to help. You want to protect them, you want to do anything you can to get them a leg up. you see these kids like Addy walking around, you think about, it just puts another level to it. We're not just helping a kid, we're helping a kid that's already facing enough struggles in her life," Reid said.

It's the largest project to date for this UAW, however, Reid admitted the reward might just be as sweet for them as it is for Addy.

"Addy puts a simple on your face regardless. Just sit and talk to her puts a smile on your face. but to see her actually benefit and learning and she can about to tell you this whole block here. She can definitely repeat the signal almost in perfect time. It warms your heart to watch." 

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