A non-stop fight for independence to the rhythm of piano

Campbell Grousbeck (California, 1992) is one of the members of the Threshold program, a two-year program for young adults with special needs and diverse learning challenges. He is in the Early Childhood path and will join the Transition program in Fall, when he will move to an apartment with two friends and will keep working at a organization for children. Campbell was born with serious visual impairment. Despite using glasses for some time, his vision never improved. He had Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), an inherited retinal degenerative disease characterized by a severe loss of vision at birth.

Apart from his classes at Lesley and other social activities, his weekly routine includes working as music teacher at the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club, volunteering with kids at the Museum of Science and taking private Spanish lessons (Photos: Pat Piasecki).

How do you describe yourself?

I am very smart, I am intelligent, I am blind, of course. Biggest thing, I am really outgoing and social.

What are your goals?

One is being more independent and not having so much help. When I am at work, one of my goals is to be more involved with the kids, engage with teaching them piano more often. It is a little challenging for me, but I am getting used to it. This is my first year working at a club with kids. I have to say that most of the things I did, I got used to and I got better.

What is the most important experience that has impacted your life?

Moving a lot of times when I was a kid. I was born in California and I moved to Massachussets looking for better schools here to learn.

What was the most important day in your life?

The day when I was transitioning from being an elementary kid to a middle-school kid. I found that important to me because I could get better in my skills. For example, writing, like writing sentences just about my life or other people.

What was the biggest challenge in your life so far?

I think knowing what to do when I had a roommate who was not nice to me. He would often disrespect me. I got moved out to a single room and it didn’t happen again. He hurt my feelings. He used to ask me many questions on how I became blind. I said I don’t want to answer and he didn’t listen to me. It upset me when he was nosy about my blindness. Instead of asking, people could check the website http://blindnewworld.org/.

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If you were the president of Lesley, how would you improve inclusion efforts on campus?

If I were the president, I would have more blind people come, learning how to read in Braille. I would change the situation when new people start the program and they have no friends. It is very hard. I was alone at the beginning and then everyone came to me. I would organize activities for blind students to socialize and give an speech to say that blind people can do anything and the only different is we can’t see.

I would change accessibility, making classes accesible for people like me. I tried to take a Spanish class, but it was not possible because of lack of accessibility.

What is your biggest takeaway at Lesley?

How much I am able to accomplish. For example, I was able to accomplish my food lab skills, like cutting; I was able to accomplish my money skills. I feel different myself comparing with two years ago, when I started the program. Nowadays, I feel confident, like someone who knows everything about this. Before, I was nervous because I wasn’t sure about what to expect. I feel the program seems really easy this year.

What is the most painful stereotype for you?

When people in a wheelchair are misjudged. It makes me very upset. This has happened to me too. I have been misjudged because of my blindness and my eyes. For example, someone thought that probably I wasn’t capable enough due to my disability. That upset me.

Get more information about the Threshold program at Lesley University.

What is your biggest fear?

Fire drills because of the sound is too loud. Something that scares me a lot is being out in the rain because of the thunder. Also, another fear is the possibility of people misjudging me.

What is your biggest dream in life?

Becoming a real music teacher, not just a volunteer, but paid, working with children. My dream is becoming a preschool teacher. I love kids, they are very cute.

Why do you like music so much?

Because it is a good thing in your life. Songs are very relaxing; it’s a good way to live. Also, for kids can be a way to learn about life. For example, songs about tragedies can make you feel better.

What is your favorite song?

Turn the page, by Bob Seger. I like that he talks about his boring life on the road and he says: “But here I am, on the road again/ Here I am, up on the stage/ Here I go, playing the star again/ There I go, turn the page.”

Imagine you are in front of millions of people belonging to the American society, what song would you play?

I would play The more we get together. I like the idea of bringing people together to improve the situation of the society.

Do you have any idea about your purpose in life?

Inspiring people through the stories of my life, for example, how my life started and how it goes on.

How do you imagine your life in 10 years?

My life in 10 years is going to be pretty interesting because I am going to keep my job as a teacher, I am going to be more independent and do skills completely by myself, like cooking.

What is your favorite quote?

“Get the feeling”.

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