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Music camp planned for blind and visually impaired children

Final concert at WVU June 17 open to public

Music camp planned for blind and visually impaired children

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Twenty-nine blind and visually impaired children from across West Virginia will sharpen their musical skills – and learn important life lessons – at WVU Eye Institute’s Children’s Vision Rehabilitation Program (CVRP) Summer Institute June 13-17 in Morgantown.

Blessing Offor, a blind musician who earned national attention for his performance on “The Voice” in 2014, will coach the group in preparation for a public concert June 17 at WVU’s Creative Arts Center.

Blessing Offor works out a song with Ahmad Shafi of St. Albans, W.Va., along with Emma Griffith of Shinnston, Victoria Eaves of Charleston, and Josephine Komisaruk of Morgantown, earlier this year at the West Virginia School for the Blind in Romney.

“Our mission at the CVRP is to increase educational and social opportunities, independence and employability for visually impaired children,” said Rebecca Coakley, director of low vision outreach at the WVU Eye Institute. “Our focus all week will be on music, but what these children will leave with are better skills for independent living, socialization and self-advocacy.”

Offor met with many of the children earlier this year at the West Virginia School for the Blind in Romney to help get ready for the camp and choose songs.

Offor was born blind in his left eye due to congenital glaucoma, and lost his other eye in a childhood accident. When he moved from his birthplace in Nigeria to the U.S. during elementary school he was given opportunities to learn music, and now wants to share this gift with others who have visual impairments.

He will perform with the children at the “Our Voice” concert at 6:30 p.m. June 17 at the WVU Creative Arts Center. Admission is $10; children under 3 will be admitted free and ages 3-14 are $5. Tickets are available at the door or from Paula Lang at CVRP; email langp@wvumedicine.org or call (304)598-6965.

Blessing Offor practices with Tatyana Tolliver-Hughes of South Charleston, W.Va.
Offor smiles as Braylenn Dowdy from Sinks Grove, W.Va., sings her song
Paige Compton of Oak Hill, Tannous Alsobrook of Poca, Destiny Waugh of Exchange and Deliah Willis of Romney practice stage performances at the West Virginia School for the Blind earlier this year


Contact Information: 

Rebecca Coakley, WVU Director of Low Vision Outreach, coakleyr@wvumedicine.org  (304)288-5563

Paula Lang, WVU Low Vision Education Specialist, langp@wvumedicine.org  (304)598-6965

Note to media: Media visits to the Summer Institute are encouraged. Interviews with the children, CVRP staff, and The Voice star Blessing Offor can be arranged 9 a.m. - noon June 14, 15 or 16 at the Benton Grove event center just outside Morgantown.  Please make prior arrangements with Rebecca Coakley.