Amber's Advocacy Project

by Amber Meaux, KYEA ICON Intern

As you can see, I have goals for myself, I want to be much more than just someone who is blind and can’t do anything for myself. I want to show those who thought that I couldn’t do it, that they were wrong indeed. I love proving people wrong especially since I know we can do it with just a little push in the right way. Also, using the resources that are available to you, the biggest one for me right now is VR, because they are going to pay for me to go to college and get all the technology I will need. Remember, if you don’t make a difference in your life, who else will. You have to take the first step. 

My name is Amber Meaux, and I’m visually impaired due to a condition known as Retinoblastoma, which is a cancer of the eye. I was born with this, so I have been blind all my life. Since I’m the only one in my family who is blind, I went to the Mississippi School for the Blind and the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired. 

As a person with a visual impairment, I had to learn to read and write Braille, use a cane, and assistive technology. I really enjoyed going to school because I was around others like me and could be taught the necessary skills to become more independent. 

After graduating in 2011 from the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired, I went on to Affiliated Blind of Louisiana [ABL], which is a training center that will assist you with improving skills to be more successful in finding employment. I did the six-month program during which I learned a lot of things. Cooking has always been a challenge for me, but after going through this program, I can now cook my meals. I still might need some assistance when it comes to cooking meat, but I can manage everything else. I also learned how to use different programs on the computer, for example Microsoft excel. After finishing the program, I went back home, where I thought I would be working on getting into college. However, that will not happen the way I want it to. 

As I stated before, I’m the only one in my family who is blind and, therefore, I felt out of place. I felt like everyone wanted me to stay at home and do nothing while they took care of me for the rest of my life. To be honest, I wasn’t going along with that. I want to be someone that will make a difference in someone’s life. People with disabilities are looked at as if we can’t do anything for ourselves, and I want to show the world that’s not true. My life after high school proves it! 

In July of 2013, I moved from Louisiana to Kansas. I know, a long way from home right, but I had to do that in order to prove to people that I can do whatever I choose to do even though I’m blind. I stepped out on my own, and yes it was scary, but I had to do it for myself. After getting settled, I applied for an internship at the Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy [KYEA]. This agency works with youth with disabilities across the state of Kansas. They teach youth empowerment skills and how to find and keep a job. I was excited when I got the position. I posted it on my Facebook page so that my family could see what I had accomplished since I moved. This is just one of many things they will notice. The Internship is a five month program that works with youth on improving skills that will help them keep a job. Since people with disabilities are expected to do nothing. The staff at KYEA push youth so that we can succeed because they believe in us and know we can go on to do great things. I’m glad to have gotten the opportunity to work with everyone; they have all taught me a lot. I have gone to several presentations with the staff to see how they interact with youth and what techniques they use while speaking in front of others. I must say I feel much better about speaking in front of people now. Before starting this internship, I didn’t have good oral communication skills, but that has also improved tremendously. 

I am currently working with Vocational Rehabilitation Services [VRS] to get my technology and to apply to college for the fall semester. I want to major in Social Work, because I love kids and believe that I will be able to help them deal with things they are going through.             

I can relate to some of the problems that children face today. I can’t wait to find a Social Worker position. That will be the happiest day of my life.