NFB Project STRIVE is dedicated in providing quality programs to help meet the unique needs of blind and visually impaired youth throughout Utah. Project STRIVE instructors are positive, educated, blind adults who are fully dedicated to model, mentor, encourage and teach life, education, and employment readiness skills. These skills, along with a positive attitude towards blindness is absolutely critical for blind and visually impaired youth to transition successfully as adults.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

An article written about one of Project STRIVE's mentors ... Barbie Elliot!!

Blindness doesn’t hold Layton mother back
By April Hale
Wed, 01/25/2012 - 7:02pm

LAYTON — Barbie Elliott, 42, has never seen the keys on a piano, words on a page, or the smile on a child’s face.

Despite these visual limitations, Elliott plays the piano expertly — by ear.

She has a bachelor’s degree in music composition, is a leader in the blind community, and a stay-at-home mom of four children, all with their sight.

“Everything I’ve wanted to do, I’ve found a way to accomplish it,” said Elliott, who was born blind.

She believes that blind people can do just about anything, given the right training and tools.

For example, Elliott’s 12-year-old daughter sings in her seventh-grade choir and wanted her mother to serve as an accompanist.

“I wondered how that was going to work,” said Lisa Miner, choir teacher at Fairfield Junior High in Kaysville. “But, if she says she can do it, she can.”

Miner played the song once for Elliott, who could then immediately play back everything she heard — including, to Miner’s chagrin, the mistakes.

“She played that thing after one hearing. It’s just amazing,” said Miner.

Elliott said her love for music began at an early age. When her siblings watched cartoons she would concentrate on the music from them.

“I paid attention to what (the cartoons) did with music to cause emotion,” she said.

She would then imitate the sounds she heard on the piano.

Her love for music was apparent at such an early age that her grandfather passed on his piano to her when she was 3 years old. She still uses that piano in her home today.

She began composing her own music because others would correct her mistakes, thinking she was making them simply because she was blind.

“I started writing my own songs because nobody could fix that. I still do it that way to this day,” she said.

A few years ago she cut her own CD, complete with her own compositions and arrangements.

Elliott is a firm believer that blind people can be independent, employable, and productive members of society.

She was the second completely blind person to graduate from a mainstream school in Utah. At the time, most blind children attended a boarding school in Ogden, she said.

While her parents thought the school offered a good education, they did not approve of the boarding school format. They wanted their daughter to learn how to function in a family, and she couldn’t do that if she didn’t live with one.

As a child, Elliott said, her mother taught her many basic life skills, such as, how to cook on a gas stove, change diapers and clean the house.

“My mother believed I could do it, and then made me do it,” Elliott said. “My mom was very patient. She recognized that my failure wasn’t always her fault or that I should quit.”

As the Weber/Davis Chapter President of the National Federation of the Blind of Utah, Elliott offers services to blind youth ages 13 to 26 to help them learn these same life skills. She works with them on a monthly basis through a program called Project STRIVE (Successful Transition Requires Independence, Vocation, and Education.)

The unique program, offered just in Utah, provides blind youth with blind adult mentors who teach life, education, and employment readiness skills.

This month, the group is taking the youth to tour the University of Utah and then taking them ice skating.

“We can teach sighted people that (the blind) can do a lot more than some people think,” Elliott said. “We want to change the perception that has been there for a long time that blind people should not have to work as hard.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Weeks 2 & 3 of the "Apple a Day" challenge.

Have you heard of the Project STRIVE "Apple a Day" challenge yet?

Whether you are a blind teenager/young adult yourself, or a teacher, family member, or friend of a blind teenager/young adult, keep reading to see a fraction of the 121-Day challenge.

Week 2-

Monday January, 9th (Day 9): Ride a bus, Frontrunner, or TRAX. Two stops minimum. Write a paragraph about how your experience went.
Tuesday January, 10th (Day 10): Sign up for NLS or Bookshare.
Wednesday January, 11th (Day 11): Have your TVI time your braille typing. Have him/her write us an email telling us how fast you typed.
Thursday January, 12th (Day 12): Participate in a service project. Write a paragraph about what you did.
Friday January, 13th (Day 13): Friday the 13th!!! Clean a toilet nonvisually.
Saturday January, 14th (Day 14): Attend Project STRIVE

Week 3:

Monday January, 16th (Day 16): How are TRAX lines color-coated? Visit
Tuesday January, 17th (Day 17): Create an account on
Wednesday January 18th (Day 18): Sign up for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) by calling 800-284-1823 and ask for Diana Yoder.
Thursday January 19th (Day 19): Go to to listen to Dr. Cordes speech, "A Practicing Blind Physician" and email 5 things you learned from the speech/article.
Friday January 20th (Day 20): Invite a sighted friend to our February sledding/movie activity. Email the name of your friend.
Saturday January 21st (Day 21): Bake cookies then use them to spell a word in braille. Take a picture and email it.

Some small reminders:
  • Be sure to keep track of points as you complete daily challenges. (We suggest an excel document)
  • It does not matter the order in which each challenge is completed (or even how many are completed per day:), so long as each challenge is recorded and the appropriate proof is emailed.

Good luck!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Project STRIVE December activity

(Above) A collage of Project STRIVE's December activity. Photos include: Adam giving tips and tricks of VoiceOver, Cheralyn and Chase Creer, Megan with her white-elephant extra-large rubber duck, playing board games, and project STRIVE participants and mentors playing and singing near the piano.

Last month Project STRIVE joined the Salt Lake Chapter of the NFB as well as the Parents of Blind Children division for an annual Christmas party.

Some other festivities from last month's activity include:
  • Participating in a discussion led by Brook
  • Learning to assemble (non-edible) gingerbread houses
  • Being treated to a delicious holiday lunch
  • Bringing and exchanging white-elephant gifts
  • Playing accessible board games
  • and receiving one-on-one technology tutoring
Entertainment during lunch was provided by some very talented Project STRIVE participants and mentors. (Barbie Elliot, Tara Briggs, and Jonothan Nolan, just to name a few) Thanks to everyone who participated and shared their unique talents!

If you missed out on the activity, here are some clips to catch you up::

Ms. Caroline Blair playing the piano.

Tara Briggs playing the flute.

A speck of the white elephant gift exchange.

If you missed the December activity, the next Project STRIVE activity will be next Saturday, January the 14th at the University of Utah.

See you there :)