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Beekmantown student recognized for participation in Braille competition

WEST CHAZY What may look to some like a series of bumps on a piece of paper or on a sign at the local library is actually a very useful tool that people like Christina Moore of West Chazy use to overcome the challenge of blindness. The 14-year-old Beekmantown Central School student was recognized last week for her participation in the Junior National Honor Society Braille Challenge, held earlier this summer in Los Angeles, Calif. Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey, R-Peru, and Stephen Hunt, a representative with the office of Gov. David A. Paterson, joined together at Dupreys Plattsburgh office Oct. 15 to honor her. The assemblywoman first congratulated Christina for her accomplishment, presenting her with a citation from the state Assembly. As Duprey read the letter, Christina followed along with her own copy, which was translated into Braille by her teacher, Christina Work. She smiled as her fingers brushed the page and she heard the assemblywomans congratulatory words. Christina, we are so proud of you and that is why weve invited you here today to recognize you, Duprey told her. Hunt additionally commended Christina, reading a letter to her from the governor in which he called her an outstanding citizen worthy of public recognition and commendation. I applaud your strength and your positive attitude and I am delighted that you, too, have discovered that visual impairment, despite its challenges, does not prevent you from attaining great things, the governor wrote. In his letter, Paterson further stated she has distinguished herself as a talented, mature young woman, capable of making lasting and significant contributions to our great state and nation. The commendation from the governor, which was also translated into Braille, held special meaning for Christina, as Paterson was appointed the first legally-blind governor of any U.S. state. This is awesome, Christina said of her recognition. I had no idea. Im surprised and a little shocked. It means a lot to me. The challenge, explained Christinas teacher, allows blind students in grades first through 12 to participate in exercises which test Braille literacy. Participants are rated on accuracy, comprehension and spelling and are tested on reading charts and graphs in Braille as well. Theres no math; thats a good thing, Christina joked. Qualifying rounds are held within individual school districts with winners sent on to the national competition. Christina was one of two in New York State who qualified to compete with 60 other students at the challenge. I was really glad to make it to the finals, said Moore. I got to meet people from everywhere. Though she did not place, Moore made history being the first student in the county to attend the finals, said Work. The fact that she represented our state, more importantly, Beekmantown and this area, is just a huge honor, said Work. Its also absolutely one of the most rewarding experiences for me as a teacher. You dont get to see many blind people compete and appreciate Braille. I get to see the importance of Braille for these kids and how hands-on, literally, it is for them. This is how they read, this is how they write. Christina has been totally blind since birth, seeing no colors or having any light perception whatsoever, said Work. She started learning Braille at the age of six, a passion she pursued when she began attending school at Beekmantown during her sixth grade year. I was in fourth grade when my teacher asked me to do the challenge. I liked it a lot, Christina recalled. I love Braille. Its awesome because I can read so many things. Christinas achievement is one that not only made her proud, but one that made her family as well. Her aunt, Donna Cudworth, said she was especially appreciative of Dupreys recognition of her niece, adding she was also touched by the governors commendation. I thought it was an honor for him to recognize Christina in the way that he did, said Donna. Shes been doing really well and its just amazing to see how shes developed, added Christinas uncle, Dennis Cudworth. In addition to her achievements, Christina will be speaking at the National Conference for the Council of the Blind in Long Island next month. There, she will thank the Council of the Blind for sponsoring the plane tickets for both her and her aunt to fly to California for the challenge. Christina will also be speaking to the councils board of directors about her experience and how important Braille literacy is in her life. This girl is amazing and an inspiration to a lot of people including the teachers and the students. Shes just a neat person, Work said.

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