We converged selected 50 high school students with visual impairments from 5 schools (St Francis Secondary, Bungoma High School, Katilu Girls Secondary, Katilu Boys Secondary and Mitoto Secondary School) at St. Francis Primary school in Kapenguria, West Pokot. The common goal was to empower them to embrace STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects, paving the way for a brighter future filled with limitless career options. The STEM Mentorship Camp was not just an event; it was a transformative experience that changed perceptions.
The Need for STEM in the Visually Impaired Community
It is a well-established fact that STEM subjects offer a plethora of career opportunities, from engineering and computer science to biotechnology and data analysis. However, for visually impaired students, the path to embracing STEM can often seem daunting. Accessibility barriers, a lack of resources, and limited exposure to STEM-related activities can deter these talented individuals from pursuing their dreams.
KBTA recognizes the untapped potential within the visually impaired community and firmly believes that everyone, regardless of their physical challenges, should have the opportunity to explore STEM subjects and careers. The STEM Mentorship Camp is their answer to bridging this gap.
Empowering through mentorship
We had a privilege to have knowledgeable and passionate mentor who have achieved remarkable success in STEM fields, including the blind pilot – Daniel Odongo who really inspired the students.
Through hands-on robotics session, we were able to break down complex STEM concepts into understandable bits, making the subjects not only accessible but also exciting.
The camp fostered a sense of community and support among the students. We created an environment where students could share their expectations, experiences, and challenges. They build friendships and bonds that extend beyond the camp's duration, creating a network of like-minded individuals who motivate and uplift one another.
The Power of STEM Clubs
One of the crucial components emphasized during the camp is the need to establish STEM clubs in high schools. These clubs will serve as hubs for students to further explore their STEM interests, share knowledge, and undertake collaborative projects. STEM clubs will provide a safe and inclusive space where visually impaired students can actively engage with STEM subjects in a supportive environment.
STEM clubs will not only enhance the learning experience but also prepare students with visual impairments for future diverse careers. They are necessary to reinforce on important life skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Furthermore, these clubs will serve as platforms for advocacy, raising awareness about the importance of accessibility and inclusivity in STEM education.
The Impact on the Future
As each day unfolded during the STEM Mentorship Camp, we noticed a remarkable transformation in the attitudes towards STEM subjects. They gained confidence in their abilities to break down barriers and realize that the world of STEM is not beyond their reach. They envision themselves as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and innovators, ready to make a difference in the world.
The STEM Mentorship Camp are not just about teaching STEM; they are about instilling a belief in these young minds that they can achieve anything they set their sights on. It is about fostering a passion for learning and discovery that will stay with them throughout their lives.
This was a testament to the power of mentorship, community, and the unwavering belief that every individual, regardless of their physical challenges, deserves a chance to explore STEM. Through the camp's transformative experiences and the establishment of STEM clubs in high schools, the future for visually impaired learners is brighter than ever.
As these young minds return to their respective schools and communities, they carry with them the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to make a lasting impact in the world of STEM. They are the pioneers, breaking down barriers and illuminating a path for others to follow. Kilimanjaro Blind Trust Africa's STEM Mentorship Camp is not just a camp; it's a beacon of hope, lighting the way to a future filled with endless possibilities.