Music By Laurel Jean

Music By Laurel Jean
Music with a Message and a Mission

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Sharing God's Guiding Glimpses into my Life of Music and Ministry

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Standing together for Braille Literacy!

Brianna Murray with National Braille Challenge Varsity Group


Rising high school senior, Brianna Murray, holds the Varsity sign as she poses with her group of participants in this year’s National Braille Challenge, Los Angeles, CA. Blind since birth, Brianna is an honor student at the Charleston, SC School of the Arts, where she is also a violin major.

The Braille Challenge is Braille Institute's national reading and writing contest in Braille. It is a great way to motivate blind and visually impaired students to practice their literacy skills. Students test their skills in reading comprehension, Braille speed and accuracy, proofreading, spelling and reading tactile charts and graphs. More than 500 students from first through twelfth grades participated throughout the US and Canada on the regional level, in the Preliminary Round. The top scoring 65 went to the national competition in Los Angeles, in June for the Final Round—two days of competition, camaraderie and fun!

Brianna was among these 65 students, the First-Place winner in the 20-10 South Carolina Regional Braille Challenge, Varsity Division!

“Although I did not win,” Brianna says of the national Braille Challenge, “it was a great trip in a number of ways. I talked to a lot of blind friends, read a lot of Braille, and even received a new Braille book. I learned a few more ways of Braille graphing, and a great deal just in general.”

I first met Brianna in 2006. She continues to be an inspiration to me personally, and to my Chaplaincy for Blind Youth (founded July, 2008). She is always eager to learn something new, and to assist the community in any way she can.

Since 2006, Music By Laurel Jean has also teamed up on several occasions with Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, Inc., the folks who founded and hosted the very first Top Dog Workshop! It is an honor for me, personally, to serve as an officer and technical adviser of this organization.

In 2008, Dixie Land Guide Dog Users voted unanimously to offer an annual scholarship for the first South Carolina student to contact Dixie Land with qualification for the current year's National Braille Challenge. The Dixie Land Guide Team was one of many organizations helping to sponsor Brianna’s trip to compete in California this year. Both Music By Laurel Jean and Dixie Land Guide Dog Users believe in the encouragement and support of a strong, positive presence within the blindness community and among the community-at-large. We promote Braille literacy, taking pride in the hard work and accomplishments of blind youth, everywhere!

Thank God, and thank you, for the prayers and support which make outreach like this possible!

Stay tuned for more posts like this. Until next time, God bless you and keep His Song in your heart!

© 2010 by Laurel Jean Walden

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A Little About Me

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God continues to bless me with a busy and fulfilling life. Even after thirty-plus years, my music and ministry keep going and growing. Blind from birth, I am n avid user of Braille and the long, white cane, in addition to a variety of mainstream and access technology. While my blindness does not define me, I consider it to be a unique gift from God. With this gift comes my opportunity to serve as an advocate on behalf of my fellow members of the Blindness community, living and serving among blind and sighted folks of all ages, on all walks of life. To learn more about my music, ministry and outreach, please visit my Web site, and be sure to stay tuned to my Blog!