For Maggie Wehrle, writing has always been a passion. With rod-cone dystrophy, a condition that causes her eyes to refuse to stay still and focus on an object, she's found her storytelling voice through braille.
"I started writing because I was reading the Harry Potter series, and they were really inspiring," she says. "And the fiction was crazy, it was fun to read, and I really liked writing about it."
She began writing at the age of four. By eight years old, she merged her impressive braille skills with her imagination and love of storytelling. This unstoppable combination paid off this year, when she found herself competing in the CNIB Foundation's Braille Creative Writing Contest with her story, The Underground Festival.
The short story is about a girl who goes to a shadow world below the earth's surface, where there's a shadow queen who steals people's shadows.
The highly praised short story earned Maggie first prize in the kindergarten to Grade 3 category.
Maggie is just one of the hundreds of children who have submitted stories and won prizes during the Braille Creative Writing Contest's tenure.
The CNIB Foundation is always trying to raise awareness about braille and the possibilities it opens for children and adults who are blind or partially sighted. With the help of corporate partners like TD Bank Group, who support a variety of initiatives that amplify diverse voices and promote early learning through the TD Ready Commitment – including the TD Summer Reading Club, we're able to continue to provide avenues for children to embrace and excel at literacy through braille.
With this support, children who are blind or partially sighted get a boost of confidence and a little extra push to continue to pursue their dreams. As for Maggie, she continues to write fiction novels, including one about a college student and her overweight cat. She hopes to go to university when she's older and pursue a degree in creative writing.