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Youth Services

Kayakers on the water high-fiving with their oars

When: Saturday, April 22 – Sunday, April 23

Vista Center’s youth group is partnering with ETC Kayaking for a one of a kind experience. Tomales Bay is a paddler’s dream. With pristine water, beautiful scenery, and plentiful wildlife, you will experience firsthand this remarkable jewel of west Marin County. During your trip your group will first learn the basics of kayaking, and then explore Tomales Bay by water while paddling to our beach campsite at Marshall Beach for an afternoon of exploring and an evening spent under the stars. The next day we’ll enjoy a morning paddle to end our memorable trip on Tomales Bay. This trip is great for novice to advanced paddlers of varying abilities and backgrounds.
All meals will be provided including two lunches, one breakfast, and one dinner

Cost: Free!

Students will meet at Vista Center at 7:00am on Saturday to arrive at Tomales Bay by 9:30am. Students will be picked up at Vista Center at 5pm on Sunday.

We have a limited number of slots so please RSVP quickly!

Contact for further information and to confirm attendance:
Paul Raskin at, 650-464-0412
Bethany Walton at, 352-263-9953



By Paul Raskin, Supervisor of Rehabilitation Services

Early Tuesday morning our group gathered at the Mountain View CalTrain station for an impromptu O&M lesson to a backstage tour of Cavalia’s Odysseo in San Francisco.   I still cannot decide if I was more awed by the professionalism and skills of the production’s staff, their hospitality, the press coverage, or the exuberance of Title: Vista Center Clients posing for photos with Cavalia horses and riders behind themour students. 

A cloud of media people greeted us at the Odysseo tents.  We were overwhelmingly outnumbered by the press, with representatives from radio, television, and newspapers.  Each member of our group was pulled aside and interviewed.  

In true circus tradition, each of the Odysseo employees has multiple jobs.  They call themselves “artists.”  They first took us into the stable and each pair of our students was taught how to brush a horse, feed it, and braid its mane.  They then escorted us into a practice arena to get an up-close experience with the horses as they performed around us. The artists explained to our students how they choreograph rider-less performances. 

Description: Student feels horse's soft muzzleThe staff prepared a wonderful buffet lunch for us with a live performance of music from the show.  The musicians are also aerialists and acrobats. A few of the percussionists taught the students how to match the rhythm of the drums with the gallop of the horses.  After lunch, some of the reporters gave our students a lesson on how to talk with people and get them to positively interact with you.   As we were getting ready to leave, Odysseo surprised us once more by giving everyone four tickets to a live performance. 

For our students who must so often quietly stand by while others discuss things visual, this was an empowering experience.  Two of the students told me that they want to be Odysseo horse groomers when they grow up. 

Wishing each of you love, peace, and all things good in the new year as together we help empower our blind and visually impaired friends and neighbors…

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

20 young Vista Center clients were treated to a one-time backstage tour of CAVALIO’S Odysseo (article and video on vimeo).

YouTube video:

Odesseo Musicians performing for Vista Center students

2015 Holiday Ice Skating Party

Ice Skating Party Photos


School Programs

Youth Program Permission form

Adult Permission form



WHEN: Saturday, May 2, 2015,
Participant sign in 8:15 to 9:30 A.M, Fishing 8:30 to 11:30, Lunch Served 10:30 to 12:00

WHERE: Stevens Creek Quarry, 12100 Stevens Creek Quarry, Cupertino, CA

IMPORTANT DEADLINE: Pre-Register by April 18!!!

WHO MAY PARTICIPATE: Youth With Special Needs. Family members can watch and enjoy lunch.

COST: FREE - All costs are covered by the Cupertino Host Lions

RSVP to: Vista Center Youth Coordinator, Ever Arreola:
(650) 858-0202 ext 183 or email No later than April 18

Fishing Flyer (PDF)


First Saturday of each month, 1 to 3pm

"Teens Together" is an informal group for teens that are blind or visually impaired between the ages of 12 and 20 years. Together, we will talk about challenges, explore problem-solving techniques, find solutions, and use these strategies to be successful!
Together, we will:

Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
3200 Hillview Avenue Palo Alto CA 94304

For more info contact Lynda Johnson at:

Cool Teens Together Flyer

Holiday Ice Skating Party 2014

View photos of the most recent party in December, 2014

Holiday Ice Skating Party 2012

Watch the video!

Saturday, December 21, 2013 5:20 - 7:40 pm

Winter Lodge
3009 Middlefield Rd.
Palo Alto, CA

Holiday Party Video

View a clip of the fabulous Karaoke Open Mike

All members of the Vista Center family including staff, board members and families enjoyed a fun-filled evening including great food, games and the highlight of the party, the Karaoke event. There was a lot of great talent in that crowd!

Friday December 21, 2012    
First Presbyterian Church
1667 Miramonte Ave, Mountain View, CA
5:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Food & Drinks, Live Entertainment, Music & Dancing, Karaoke, Hula Hoop Demonstration and Lessons, Games, Arts & Crafts


Ice Skating Party Video and Photos

Out on the ice!Watch a fun video of Youth Group participants, their new found high school volunteer friends as well as family members, take to the ice at the annual Vista Center Ice Skating Party held at Winter Lodge in Palo Alto on Friday, December 14th, 2012.

View a slideshow of participants, family and friends during the always enjoyable annual event:

Assistance from a volunteer


Very Special Day Drumming with Glen Velez

Note from client Nick Helms:

Thank you so much for the workshop on Saturday! I’ve been playing drums for several years now, and to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d never heard of Glen, nor had I ever heard of a frame drum.

Drumming with Glen VelezEverything was new to me, and it was interesting. Aside from a bit of experience with the conga drums, I’d never had much interest or access to other types of hand drums. I was surprised, not only at Glen’s being able to make a charer out of them, but at the sheer variety of hand drums that existed, not to mention the variety of tones he was able to produce with his own two hands. I’ve been with the youth group for several years, and there hasn’t been much of an emphasis on music

I was interested to see how everyone would react, and I really enjoyed everyone’s enthusiasm for the entire event.

About Glen Velez:
Four time Grammy Award winner, Glen Velez is the founding Father of the modern Frame Drum movement and is regarded as a legendary figure among musicians and audiences world-wide. Velez brought a new genre of drumming to the contemporary music scene by creating his own performance style inspired by years of percussion and frame drumming studies from various cultures. Velez's virtuosic combinations of hand movements, finger techniques, along with his original compositional style, which incorporates stepping, drum language and Central Asian Overtone singing (split-tone singing), has undoubtedly opened new possibilities for musicians around the globe, resulting in a shift in modern percussion.

What is a frame drum? A frame drum is a simple, handheld single head drum, like a tambourine without the jingles.  Why frame drumming? This type of drumming is fun, easy to learn,and community-building. Glen has a method of teaching that uses Voice, Simple Stepping Rhythms, and Hand Techniques that get kids and adults up and moving. The sheer enthusiasm and joy he brings to his teaching has to be experienced to be believed. This is a unique, can’t miss opportunity to participate with a true Drumming Master.

Drumming Workshop flyer (PDF)

Kayak Trip video

Watch our youth and staff in action on the San Francisco Bay.  The piece featured the group's July kayaking trip to Angel Island with Environmental  Traveling Companions. The segment aired on the local NBC affiliate station (Ch. 11) and Channel 3.


Youth Group

Our Youth Group engages in events that are recreational and educational, and of special interest to blind and visually impaired youth.  Youth group posing in front of newly donated Vista Van The Youth Group presents a tremendous Young client feeding horse at the  Menlo Charity Horse showopportunity for students and parents to meet with each other and with blind rehabilitation professionals. It also enables us to alert our students to other recreational, educational, vocational, and scholarship opportunities.

We provide Youth Group opportunities for school children of all ages. For a complete list of events or for more information, please contact Paul Raskin at 650-858-0202 extension 112.

A partial list of past events includes:

Self Defense

Our students received instruction in community safety, being aware of their environment, knowing how to get help, and strategies for avoiding trouble and fending off attacks.


Always popular, Ride-A-Wave, a non-profit organization composed largely of volunteer firefighters and police officers who enjoy surfing, spent a day with our students, teaching them to surf.


Youth Group Kayak trip to Angel IslandOur youth group received instruction in kayaking and then paddled around the San Francisco Bay, taking time to eat lunch at an isolated beach.




Holiday Ice Skating PartyFive skaters in a row at the ice skating party

Following two hours of ice-skating, our youth group and their families enjoyed food, music, games, contests, crafts, karaoke, and Santa.



A Night at the Museum  

Our students spent the afternoon at a local museum and, once the museum closed, brought in their sleeping bags and spent a fun night camping out among the exhibits. 

Described Play

Wearing headsets, our students attended a major theatrical production while listening to a narrated description of the action on the stage.

Winter Holiday Party

Our youth group members and their families enjoyedDancing at the Holiday Party music, entertainment, dancing, karaoke, games, arts and crafts, good company, and truly good food.  This annual event provides an excellent opportunity for Youth Group members, families and friends, grandparents, teachers, prospective Youth Group members, volunteers, and anyone interested in Vista Center to meet and have fun.


Overnight events are an especially fun way for our students to spend time together.  We have kayaked to Angel Island and then set up camp, and we have also slept in a zoo, in a decommissioned submarine, and near the beach in Santa Cruz.

Braille Challenge

Vista Center is pleased to be a host of the Northern California Regional Braille Challenge.  The Braille Challenge is a celebration of braille literacy in the form of a contest among blind school children.  The contestants are public and private school students in grades one through twelve.  


Divided into five groups based on reading level, the students engage in a fun day of braille challenges that include writing, reading comprehension, chart and graph reading, spelling, proofreading, and word search.  Each participant in the Braille Challenge is a winner and receives an award of achievement.  The students who achieve the highest scores in each reading level receive prizes and an invitation to participate in the national championship.

This short video clip is of seniors during a timed event where participants are scored on speed and accuracy.

Please note this video is not sped up. They are really that fast!

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Visit our Photo Album on Flickr

Youth Group permission form (MS Word document)