Education

Visually impaired children and their dads enjoy close shave at Lighthouse center

Visually impaired Daniela Abreu, 5, puts shaving cream on her dad Alan Abreu’s face as The Art of Shaving visits the Lighthouse Learning Center for Children for a pre-Father's Day shaving event on Wednesday, June 7, 2017.
Visually impaired Daniela Abreu, 5, puts shaving cream on her dad Alan Abreu’s face as The Art of Shaving visits the Lighthouse Learning Center for Children for a pre-Father's Day shaving event on Wednesday, June 7, 2017. adiaz@miamiherald.com

A fancy shave is a fail-safe idea for a Father’s Day gift, but add a mini barber and you got yourself a winner.

The Lighthouse Learning Center for Children and The Art of Shaving recently joined forces to create a fun, tactile experience for their sighted and visually impaired preschoolers — and their fathers — in celebration of the center’s first graduating class and Father’s Day.

“It seemed fitting to have the Art of Shaving come here and give a nice straight-edged shave to any dad that wanted one,” said Virginia Jacko, CEO of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. “Blind people learn by tactile experience, so having the children touch and put on the shaving cream makes them learn better.”

The Lighthouse Learning Center for Children is one of the many services offered by the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an organization that since its founding in 1931 has provided eye-health, rehabilitation and education services for the visually impaired and has promoted their independence.

The learning center inclusion program currently serves 15 youngsters, 3 to 5 years old, half of whom are visually impaired. The inclusion model aims to prepare the visually impaired children for a general education setting, while teaching the seeing children to accept and respect those who are different.

“To be honest, I don’t think they feel any different from each other,” said Isabel Chica, the center’s director who runs the program with one early-education teacher and two teachers who specialize in the visually impaired.

The center just completed a successful first year and is excited to open their new building next door, which they plan to use to expand the learning center and provide even more children with the learning experiences they need.

Visually impaired or not, the children enjoy playing with fun materials like Play-Doh, slime or shaving cream. After a graduation ceremony for six youngsters moving on to kindergarten, shaving cream was given to them to play with.

“It’s so soft! It feels good when I squish it,” said Daniela Abreu, 5, a visually impaired Class of 2017 center graduate.

On June 7, Daniela and others youngsters got to slather shaving cream on their fathers’ faces and shave it off with popsicle sticks, right before an Art of Shaving master barber joined in to finish the job with a hot towel and all.

“I like putting it on Papi’s face because it feels squishy,” said Mariel Parra, 4. “It’s fun.”

The Art of Shaving also donated gift bags for the fathers filled with a few goodies from their stores.

As simple as it seems, playing with shaving cream was not always something easy for some of these children.

A visually impaired student, Victor Francis, 4, had sensory problems and didn’t like touching anything slimy or odd-textured. After spending some time at the center, he can happily make a mess of the shaving cream like all the other children.

“Attending this school really changed him for the better. This is something he would’ve never done,” said Victor’s mother, Karen Green, as he excitedly played with the shaving cream.

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