When Kai was 10 and first diagnosed with degenerative sight loss, he was scared. He began to have trouble seeing at night and his first reaction was to build a nest on his bed out of blankets and pillows. One night as mom was tucking him into his nest, he said that he felt bad for all the kids around the world who do not have comfortable places to sleep. Mom had no idea how to tackle that issue on a global scale while also helping her son deal with sight loss, but after many conversations together: Kai’s Comforts was born. Kai decided to collect new, soft, highly tactile pillows and blankets from his community to deliver to his peers who are living at schools for the blind. At first, it started out as a great way for us to do something positive, and connect Kai to peers dealing with sight loss. His first collection was delivered to kids at the Georgia Academy for the Blind. a school for children who are blind and visually impaired about 3 hours from Kai’s mainstream school. The first delivery was a huge success the kids were thrilled to receive their comfort items, and Kai got to meet lots of kids who were “like him.”
Kai is 17 now, and he’s just completed his 4th delivery. This year, in addition to delivering comfort, he had a message to share: Comfort is important, but he now believes it’s even more important to push himself outside of his comfort zone. In his 10-minute presentation to the students at the NC School for the blind, he shared examples like the time that his mentor challenged him to introduce himself to a new person each day. He spoke about traveling out of state independently, with his white cane, to attend a STEM camp for kids who are blind and visually impaired. And, he spoke about competing against sighted skimboarders at a competition in Florida. You can hear his presentation by clicking here to launch the video on our public Facebook Page Navigating Blindness.
The kids at the school loved their comfort items, and the message resonated deeply. Kai spoke for 10 minutes, but the kids asked him questions for another 30 minutes! Then, several of the boys lined up to speak to Kai after receiving their comfort item. It’s amazing to realize the impact Kai’s idea has had on his community and it’s awesome to watch him develop his own belief system and message:
We’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has donated to Kai’s Comforts over the years. And, extend a special thank you to the schools who have so graciously hosted us: Georgia Academy for the Blind, Florida School for the Blind, South Carolina School for the Blind and North Carolina’s Governor Morehead School for the Blind.