(Written by Sally Balwin, General Manager of Braille House)

Yesterday, I attended Beaudesert State High School (BSHS) and could not have imaged the inspiration I would leave with.

Beaudesert State High School Welcome Sign

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a Facebook post about the school’s efforts creating “Hope” – their entry in the Archibull competition. Yes, until that post I too had not heard about the Archibulls but boy am I hooked now. The Archibull Prize is an innovative program that sees school students research an agricultural industry and express their findings through artwork – specifically a fibreglass cow ( http://archibullprize.com.au/about/index.html ).

BSHS Archibull entry "Hope"
BSHS Archibull entry “Hope”

This is the third year BSHS has entered the competition but why is this of interest to Braille House?
What really caught my eye was Shaye’s story – a grade 11 student who had only been at the school 12 months and her transformation from an introverted shy young lady to a confident, strong and engaging teenager navigating her way in a supportive school and community. You see, Shaye is almost totally blind but has found a connection with agriculture through a love of animals and the Archibull competition.
This brave young lady is now grabbing her vision impairment by the horns and making the most out of life.

Braille on the udders of "Hope"
Braille on the udder of “Hope”

Part of this journey has included learning braille. To celebrate her efforts, “Hope’s” udder has been brailled with the message, ‘From grass to glass, five minutes is all it takes’. This message was chosen by Shaye and everyone, including the Judges are very impressed.

So, how did I wind up at the school on a pupil free day for the judging of the school’s Archibull entry?
I was so motivated and touched by the school’s efforts and Shaye’s story, I offered the school a Braille House Community Library Membership until Shaye finishes school thanks to the generous grant of the Brisbane Airport Corporation. Yesterday seemed as good a day as any to deliver the first parcels of books. This will enable the school to access all braille resources in our library to support Shaye and other students to achieve their goals.

"Hope" side view
“Hope” side view

I could not have imagined the ripple affect of this simple gesture as now her friends and fellow school mates are starting a braille club so they can learn braille with her.
I was fortunate to meet Shaye and her father and was blown away by more of her story and for her future.

Congratulations Beaudesert State High School. This is only the beginning of the journey between Braille House and BSHS and I look forward to many visits to the school in the future.