Meet Julianna

Julianna smiles while wearing blue glasses

Last year, 9-year-old Julianna attended Cleveland Sight Center’s White Cane Walk with her family for the first time, but she’s been a part of the CSC community since she was a baby!

Julianna has a septo-optic dysplasia diagnosis and is visually impaired. Julianna is a smart, bright child who loves to play piano, gets around well with her white cane and reads braille!

Before Julianna was a white cane and braille superstar, Cleveland Sight Center was there to help Courtney, Julianna’s mom, when she was an overwhelmed first-time parent.

Julianna uses her white cane as she runs on an outdoor track while she holds a helper's hand. She's wearing a yellow shirt and her pink glasses."Cleveland Sight Center really was a blessing during those days. The support and reassurance from Barb, Keith, Dorota, Melissa, and all of them meant so much to me and showed me that Julianna was going to be fine."

Courtney and Julianna first got involved with CSC through our early intervention program. Barb, an Early Intervention Specialist, worked collaboratively with Courtney to develop a customized service plan unique to Julianna’s needs and vision diagnosis. This included a variety of in-home services that maximized her skills across all developmental areas.

Courtney also went to an early intervention playgroup hosted by CSC, where children could play together while their parents talked. She still stays in touch with some of the families from that group!

When Julianna turned 3 years old, she aged out of EI services and entered CSC’s Preschool. There, she made friends with other students and gained confidence moving around the visual world.

Julianna's blind, but she has so many positive things going on beyond her diagnosis,Courtney said.

Julianna looks at the camera and smiles. Her long brown hair is in pigtail bows and has pink glasses.

Courtney wants her son, Julianna’s little brother, to attend CSC’s preschool so he can learn about his sister’s vision impairment. The preschool’s sighted peer program encourages peer modeling and friendship.

 Through this relationship, the sighted peers learn compassion and leadership skills at an early age. The children have the space to work together, have constructive fun and discover how enjoyable learning can be, regardless of their abilities.

Now that Julianna is “a big kid,” Courtney is actively involved with a Facebook group for parents of children with visual impairments. She enjoys sharing Julianna's story on there to encourage other parents.

"Just because your child is born with visual impairments doesn't mean they can't have a good childhood or life growing up," Courtney said.

Cleveland Sight Center is so glad to be a part of Julianna’s childhood, and her CSC family is excited to support her at another White Cane Walk! Last year, Courtney’s favorite part of the event was seeing her daughter’s big smile as she crossed the finish line. This year, Julianna and her fundraising team are excited to cross that finish line again, with the support of their Cleveland Sight Center family.

White Cane Walk helps bring people together so they can better understand how a child or adult who loses their vision goes through life,” said Courtney.