Several blind and visually impaired kids from New York City gathered to participate in a spelling bee-like competition at P.S./I.S. 49Q in Middle Village on Saturday, Feb. 3.
Developed by the Braille Institute, the NYC Braille Challenge relates to reading comprehension, writing speed and accuracy, proofreading, spelling and reading tactile charts and graphs. This competition promotes the importance of Braille literacy and motivates kids with visual impairments to practice and hone their skills in this field.
The participating youths, from grades 1-12, competed to earn a spot at Braille Challenge Finals, set to take place this summer in Los Angeles. Those who participated typed away at their braillers and glided their fingers along Braille dots, all while being cheered on by their families, friends and teachers. The students also got to enjoy a performance by the NYPD Marching Band; an interactive circus; and opportunities to touch and explore a NYPD horse, K9 dog, dump truck and city bus.
There was a total of five levels of competition: Apprentice, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior Varsity and Varsity.
When it came to the Apprentice category, eighth grader Rachel Yiu of Middle Village was the winner. Second graders Mariam Rahman of South Ozone Park and Lorena Huang of Oakland Gardens finished second and third respectively. Honorable mentions were also given to eighth grader Paige Pamesa of Astoria and second grader Hudson Mohn of Manhattan.
In the Freshman category, fifth grader Tyler Hunte of Brooklyn was the winner, with fourth grader Rose Bressack of Manhattan earning second place. In the Sophomore field, sixth grader José Landeros-Mondragon of Staten Island placed first, followed by fifth grader Hao Wen Deng and sixth grader Luohan Tang, both from Flushing.
In Junior Varsity, seventh grader Nael Raza of Brooklyn was the winner, with eighth grader Constance Chai of Jackson Heights taking second place. For the Varsity group, 12th grader Amina Orzueva of Brooklyn was the winner. South Ozone Park resident Maisha Rahman, also in the 12th grade, placed second and 10th grader Milo Sherman of Brooklyn placed third. Honorable mentions included 11th graders Lucy Ye and Nestor Alfonso of Flushing and 12th grader Maya Graves of Brooklyn.