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Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Blind learn about nature at Perkins School



(Kara Voiland gets a sense of a leaf, Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)

Kara Voiland must have passed by the towering horse chestnut tree more than a thousand times over the past decade but until a few weeks she had no idea that it was there.

“Ten years I’ve gone by it and didn’t know!” Voiland said, stroking one of its satiny chestnuts, her face beaming with the thrill of discovery.

Voiland, 19,and Deanna Powers, 17, were getting a lesson on trees at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown.

The Watertown school was established to prepare blind and visually impaired students to lead independent lives, but it sees its role as more than teaching academic subjects and vocational skills.

“An appreciation of nature, plants and flowers is part of the enjoyment of life, for everyone, sighted or not,” said Barbara Castleman, a spokesperson for Perkins, adding that horticulture has been part of the studies since the school moved to North Beacon Street in 1912.

Read more of this story in tomorrow's Globe West.

-- Ann Butler

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