Brittany Nelson's Story

Brittany Nelson wants to make a difference for youth who are blind or partially sighted through her involvement with Manitoba CNIB Youth Council.

"When I was growing up I wasn’t aware there were other youth like me out there. I think having a unified voice through the youth council is really important to help connect kids who might not feel included within the vision loss community," said the 23-year-old.

Nelson, who lives in Winnipeg, joined the youth council last July at the request of a friend.

"I joined because I wanted to take on more of a leadership role within the visually impaired community and start getting involved in some activism. I thought the Youth Council would be a great way to get started in that and I wanted to meet other people around my age group who had similar interests."

Nelson has been involved with CNIB, learning orientation and mobility, and independent living skills, since she was in preschool. She was born with Retinopathy of Prematurity as a result, she is partially sighted. And although she has some sight, her eye condition still requires her to utilize accessible aids and devices for reading, taking notes and learning to navigate new environments.

Most recently she worked with a vocational councillor at CNIB to prepare funding requests for the MarketAbilities Program which funds her Bachelor of Education degree, as well as, the accessible devices and technology she needs to read course materials and see presentations.

Despite the challenges she deals with on a daily basis her attitude is positive. "I can choose to see my eye condition as a hindrance or a strength. I choose to see it as a strength because it allows me to constantly adapt situations to suit my strengths. Adaptability is a highly sought-after quality and I have to adapt on a daily basis, so this is why I view it as a strength."

Dreaming big and goal driven, she wants to teach grade seven or eight and recently returned from her third trip abroad where she travelled to nine European countries and 23 cities.
Preparing for her final year of university and her work on the youth council she becomes reflective. "My involvement with the youth council has helped build my leadership skills as a future teacher, as leadership is a key trait that a teacher needs. I have lots of ideas and it is really cool to bounce those off of other council members and then see them come to fruition."

She goes a step further. "I think that goals we are setting are important because we each have clear objectives we want to accomplish and setting goals gives us something to look towards that will actually make a difference in the community. I think the mission of the council is so important as it brings youth together."

Nelson’s overall message to others who have vision loss is important. "I want them to know that their visual impairment will present them with challenges, but with a lot of resilience and determination, they can overcome those challenges and it will make them stronger because of it."