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Vista Center is proud to share impactful stories from our community.  Enjoy reading some of these meaningful stories!

Back to Work – Vista Center Sets the Path

Jimmy Uharriet, a Teamster, was hired as a United Airlines mechanic at San Francisco Airport in 2010. In 2016, the unexpected became his reality – Jimmy was involved in an accident outside of work that left him totally blind.

“I decided not to look back, but to move forward,” Jimmy said. So, only six months after the accident that took his sight, Jimmy became a Vista Center client, working with Valerie Campos, Director of Adult Services.   “I had to be retaught everything, and I was often frustrated with what seemed to be my new life limitations,” said Jimmy.

Jimmy at a workbench, working with his handsWith the help of Vista Center’s individualized, one-to-one Orientation and Mobility (O&M) instruction, Jimmy learned the specific skills he needs to travel safely and efficiently at home, work, and within his community. New skills such as using a white cane, using public transportation, safely crossing streets, and fully using his other senses, set the initial path for Jimmy to go back to work.

Vista Center’s programs and services helped Jimmy to process the grief of losing his sight, and learn how to navigate without vision in a sighted world.  Over time, and with steady support, he regained his self-confidence as a mechanic and was able to return to work at United Airlines.

Jimmy remained an integral part of his United Airlines family.  Ed Tana, a fellow mechanic who helped retrain Jimmy shared, “Jimmy has always been a core part of our work group.  Camaraderie is big here and we are all brothers.”  The skills Jimmy learned at Vista Center helped him return to being fully functional at his workplace again. 

•	Jimmy at work, smiling at the camera with his arms crossedBefore losing his sight, Jimmy worked on jet bridges, ground power, and locksmith work. “Now I do bench-work,” he explained. “I am brought electric motors, clutch brakes, and gearbox reducers for the back system to rebuild and overhaul."  Vista Center’s Valerie Campos was impressed by Jimmy’s warm demeanor, sense of humor, and relentless motivation to continually challenge himself.  She believes this positive attitude, combined with Vista Center's services, helped him regain his career success and also introduced him to a new world of community engagement.

 Jimmy speaks highly of the services he received from Vista Center and credits Valerie and her colleagues for paving the way for him to return to work as a mechanic: “Looking back…. I would not be where I am if it was not for Vista Center!”


The Vista Voyagers know how to get creative!

Young boy molding clay with his hands while an instructor and volunteer sit next to him.

Just last month our youth participated in the event Imagination Station, A Day with Clay at Vista’s new San Jose location.  Girl creating a mug out of clay with help from an instructor.The Playful Critters, ages 5 - 10, created a sleek sea turtle and the Undercover Creators, ages 11 to 15, crafted their very own drinking mug. The Playful Critters worked jointly with their parents enjoying some quality time together while the Undercover Creators worked independently chatting with each other, Angel (Vista Center instructor), and the volunteers (from New Visions of Tomorrow). During the event, one parent shared, “My son is quite shyYoung girl showing off her clay project, a sea turtle, to the camera. , but I saw him today opening up to his peers because he was engaged in activities he could actively participate in and express his own unique creativity.”

All Voyager events are crafted around the Expanded Core Curriculum, a set of nine areas where children with visual impairments require specialized opportunities in order to compensate for the lack of learning by observing others. Imagination Station, A Day with Clay highlighted four key areas, social interaction, recreation and leisure skills, career education exposure, and self-determination.

Expanded Core Curriculum skills developed:

  1. Social interactions: Younger students spent quality one-on-one time with their parents working together to shape and paint the turtles. Several students were reunited with friends they hadn’t seen since preschool, and students who were shy or new to the group were soon chatting happily away about their project ideas.
  2. Recreation and leisure skills: Students had the opportunity to craft, shape, and paint a clay figure and understand art which is meaningful to them. Students with visual impairments need hands on exposure to the wide variety of recreations and leisure skills available to them as they are not able to observe these options via television or watching a peer.
  3. Career education exposure: Students were exposed to an art instructor who was also visually impaired. Career exposure is vital for students with visual impairments as it demonstrates how lack of sight is not a limitation for future career options.
  4. Self-determination development: Students learned a new skill and expressed their own creative techniques. When confused on the next steps in the project, students were encouraged to self-advocate by asking for help. Students overcame tactile defensiveness by digging, rolling, and manipulating the clay.

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Candy holding oars in a blue kayak on the water with harbor boats in background