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Vista Voyagers Pumpkin Fest

Image 1: Voyager in an Incredibles costume carving a pumpkinThe Voyagers Pumpkin Carving Fest was an event which included all the senses! The smell of candy apples floated through the air as seven families carved their very own jack-o-lanterns, most of the pumpkins were larger than the size of a basketball! Amidst laughter and carving advice, the pumpkin seeds were removed, seasoned with salt and olive oil, and tossed in the oven to bake into a crispy snack for later. While waiting for the seeds to cook, the students had a friendly apple bobbing match and sipped on hot apple cider. Lastly everyone voted for their favorite pumpkin and waited eagerly to see who would win the grand prize! 

Expanded Core Curriculum skills Developed:

  1. Image 2: Voyagers preparing pumpkin seeds for roastingSocial interactions: This event abounded with opportunities for family, friends, and strangers social interaction. Family members worked together to choose a jack-o-lantern theme, friends shared their favorite Halloween jokes, and students introduced themselves to people they had not previously met before assisting with cooking. Regular opportunities for students to develop social skills in a safe and welcoming environment where students feel able to speak up or ask questions are imperative to smooth and appropriate adult career and social interactions. 
  2. Independent living techniques: Cooking and knife skills where practiced throughout this event. Students discussed various knife safety techniques and put these newly learned tricks into practice as they carved their own pumpkins. They learned how to use all parts of the pumpkin instead of throwing away the insides. They then cleaned, seasoned, and roasted the seeds for their snacking pleasure.
  3. Recreation and leisure skills: Voyagers participated in mainstream fall festivities in an environment that welcomed their unique needs and allowed for hands on instruction and extra time to complete the projects. Now the students are able to participate in apple bobbing or pumpkin carving at a mainstream festival without fear of falling behind or wondering if they will be able to participate. 
  4. Sensory efficiency skills: A combined sensory approach was offered which enabled Voyagers to practice sensory integration by listening for the clatter of dishes to travel to the kitchen, by tracing the shape of a wiki stick to cut the correct eye shape, or by navigating to their designated chair and understanding where their body was in relation to the people around them. Sensory efficiency must be taught and practiced on a regular basis so students can effectively utilize all their Image 3: Voyagers posing with a line of carved pumpkinssenses jointly as they move through society.  
  5. Self-determination development: Each Voyager examined all the jack-o-lanterns before casting their vote for their favorite pumpkin (outside of their own of course!). This activity required the students to analyze the options, evaluate the creativity and skill, then determine their personal favorite by casting a vote. This decision making exercise prepares the students for more vital adult decisions such as voting for President or choosing which college to attend.


"Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a crucial organization that affords individuals the opportunity to live an independent life.
Having grown up with two blind parents I have first hand knowledge of the life changing support Vista Center provides in assisting individuals suddenly faced with blindness."

Jim Plunkett, former Vista Center board member