As 2018 winds down and we prepare to ring in 2019, we thought we’d take a moment and reflect on the year. 2018 has been a very busy, difficult, and rewarding year that has brought both challenges and positive momentum.
In January, we announced that we had become a licensed publisher at the end of 2017. Building on this work, we have been busy developing an artificial intelligence tool, named Bailey, to aid the publishing and library industries in making books accessible to everyone. Revenue generated by licensing Bailey will go into funding our programs here at Camp Bowen. Work on Bailey will continue into 2019 and beyond as the digital publishing landscape continues to evolve and we are excited to see her learn and progress.
In April, Alex, Jessica, Jocelyn, and Aedan staffed a table at the national Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) conference. Jessica spoke about Bailey at the conference, during a session put together by the National Network for Equitable Library Services (NNELS).
Also in April, the independent living skills training department took on a new student. He has been working with us ever since and we look forward to continuing to work with him into 2019.
In May, Alex, Jessica, Jocelyn, and Aedan attended the national Canadian Federation of the Blind (CFB) convention on behalf of Camp Bowen. They spoke at the convention about the importance of the covenant that governs the Bowen Island Lodge and about how it must be defended. They also spoke about the various programs and initiatives of the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired.
In July, the whole Board of Directors, including Peg, Alex, Sara, Jessica, Jocelyn, and Aedan, organized and attended a pub night fundraiser in support of Camp Bowen at Moose’s Down Under pub in Vancouver. More than 30 guests came together for a fun night of madlibs, door prizes, a 50/50 draw, and great food.
At the end of August, Alex, Jessica, Aedan, and Jocelyn, along with two additional volunteers, Jordan and Lisa, attended Bowfest, Bowen Island’s community fair. They sold Braille puzzle books designed for sighted people to decode, wrote up Braille bookmarks, and administered two 50/50 ticket draws. As usual, the organization’s tent also featured a Showdown table, provided to us by BC Blind Sports. Balloon animals were also created and given out to many a happy child.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing dispute with the Bowen Island Lodge and its owners, who wish to have legal protections for people with disabilities removed from the property via a rezoning application, the 2018 camping season was postponed. The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired remains committed to defending the rights of people with disabilities and will continue its work to oppose this rezoning into 2019. We hope to return to normal summer camp operations as soon as possible and appreciate your patience. If you have any questions or concerns or would like to know how to help, please see here or call us at +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 102.
In October, Sara Batt, who has served in various capacities on our Board of Directors since 2014, stepped down and has accepted the post of Transportation Committee Co-Chair. She brings an enthusiasm for and a vast knowledge of travel to the position and we look forward to working with her in her new role.
At both Easter time and Christmas, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired conducted fundraisers selling Purdy’s chocolates. At Christmas time, we split the proceeds from our Purdy’s fundraiser with one of our partners, the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind Society.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank AEBC, BC Blind Sports, the Bowen Island Community Foundation, the Bowfest committee, CFB, C-Lovers Burquitlam, Moose’s Down Under, the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind Society, and our countless other supporters, both individuals and organizations. Without you, we could not do the work that we do.
We have several other announcements we can’t wait to share with you but those will unfortunately have to wait until early 2019. In the meantime, we hope all of you have a safe and enjoyable New Year.
The Camp Bowen Team