Blind Boy Rocked by Demise of Bowen Island CNIB Camp

Source: Times Colonist

VANCOUVER — For Matthew Alvernaz, the world is about to become a little smaller. The 13-year-old, blind since birth, has just learned that the CNIB’s summer camp programs for kids at Bowen Island Lodge will be shut down due to funding shortfalls.

“It’s hard to explain how I really feel. It’s bad,” said Matthew.

His mother, Tracy Alvernaz, said that since Matthew was a toddler, the summers on Bowen have meant everything to her son and other blind kids.

“Imagine how difficult it is to fit in as a teenager with a vision problem. Bowen Island brought the normalcy of being a teenager to these kids. They didn’t have to try and fit in, they could just be themselves.”

The Bowen Island Lodge summer camp for the visually impaired offered programs for families, children and youth that included opportunities for outdoor adventures, arts, peer support and transition to independent living.

Families were shocked to receive a recent letter from the CNIB announcing the closure.

Rob Sleath, CNIB board chairman, said the decision was made “because of unprecedented financial challenges.”

CNIB is slashing in many areas, including library services, research commitments and staff salaries, Sleath said, adding that the camp’s only hope is that a private donor will step forward.