Jacob and Natalia are going to get married and live on a canal boat. Well, that was the plan at the VICTA weekend 3 years ago, the year after they met. Jacob is 9 and Natalia is 10. They are both quite severely visually impaired and they met at VICTA on the Isle of Wight 4 years ago. I am Louise, Jacob’s mum and this is a little story about them.

We only heard about VICTA through Jacob’s visually impaired qualified teacher who suggested that we take a look at their website. It was there that we found out about the family weekend at a PGL activity centre on the Isle of Wight. Before this we had had real trouble finding any activities or clubs for VI children and we knew no one in our area who was visually impaired. Jacob had never met another visually impaired person.

Luckily for us we sat next to Natalia and her family on the coach taking us to the PGL site and we got talking. Jacob and Natalia hit it off immediately. We were staying near each other and they met up between the activities. It was wonderful for us to see him with her, for him to finally know he was not the only one who was like this.

In fact everywhere you looked there was a VI child. How wonderful for Jacob to realise that other children are just like him. They also bump into things, they eat with their fingers (we‘re working on this!), they are not quite sure where Mummy or Daddy are and they hate it when the lights are turned off at school discos. To know that these children also can’t play the latest hand held video game or play football in the playground or read the latest Harry Potter book. What they can do, however, is climb to the top of the very high climbing wall, jump off the scary zip wire, make a really rubbish raft that sinks and sing really badly at the karaoke, and of course, laugh and laugh and laugh.

Not only did we make some great friends and Jacob meet his future wife, it was also so helpful to meet and talk with all the other parents and find out about all the things that Jacob was entitled to and all the struggles that all the other parents and children have to go through. Just the overwhelming feeling that you are not alone and many children are going through exactly the same thing. I cannot stress how important to us this has been. We are eternally grateful to VICTA for this.

VICTA family weekend 2013

Jacob and Natalia are still friends and we try and meet up once or twice a year. Unfortunately we do not live very close to each other. We have been to the VICTA family weekend four times now and arrange our whole summer holidays around it. We would not miss it for the world. We love it. It is a condition that Jacob and Natalia are always in the same group and woe be tide anyone who comes between them. I’m not sure what their future plans are, they are a little more coy these days. So, as for their romance, who knows, but I have a feeling Natalia will always have a very special place in his heart, and ours.