Holly Bennett's Story

Like so many kids we help, Holly Bennett has been part of the CNIB family since she was barely old enough to walk. We've been there at every stage of her life – cheering her on, supporting her, helping her build her skills and independence.
Now at 18 years old she's a confident, independent and amazingly talented young woman, and we couldn't possibly be prouder of her. 
It all started when Holly was two years old. That's when she was diagnosed with oculocutaneous albinism, an eye condition that left her with serious vision loss.
“As new parents, we had no idea how to deal with our daughter’s vision loss,” says Holly’s mother, Andrea. “CNIB was there every step of the way, providing everything from audio books and accessible toys to social opportunities and the confidence for Holly to travel safely and independently at her school and in the community."
By the time she was six, Holly was already breaking down barriers as a CNIB Ambassador. Not only did she lend her voice to public service announcements about life with blindness, but this brave little girl would stand up in front of audiences of other kids, talking to them about vision loss and helping to dispel misconceptions before she was even old enough to spell the word.
Being an Ambassador helped young Holly see her vision loss not as something that made her different from others, but something that made her special.
“Being an Ambassador is fun and exciting [although] sometimes it’s a little hard,” said Holly at age nine. “Hearing myself on the radio makes me very proud… Being an Ambassador helps my friends learn about CNIB.”
As she got older, we were always there in the background of Holly's life. Throughout her school years Holly worked with one of our itinerant teachers who helped her out in the classroom. Meanwhile, during the summer months, she attended camp for kids with vision loss where she worked with another CNIB specialist one-on-one, learning skills that would stay with her for the rest of her life.
Last year, we were proud to be there for another big milestone in Holly's life – as she moved away from home and went off to college. The girl who's been amazing people since she was a child amazed them yet again when, despite her limited vision, she was welcomed into Memorial University’s fine arts program in Newfoundland, which accepts only a handful of applicants.
"I love it. I'm learning so much and I've made a lot of friends," says Holly today. 
Now she's excited to be entering her second year of art school. After she graduates, she plans to head off to teacher's college and, eventually, become an art teacher. 
As she steps into that next phase of her life, she'll face new challenges: getting her first job, finding her first apartment. As always, we'll be honoured to be there for Holly when she needs us – every step of the way.