8 Year Old Kendra Holloway Wins National Braille Competition Video
Transcript of Video
TUCKER, Ga. — An 8-year-old Tucker girl is just back from a national reading and spelling competition where she won first place in her age group.
She is one very active child — who is all the more remarkable because of the bright future she can see for herself, vividly.
Kendra Holloway, blind since infancy, loves to compete and win in everything.
And this past weekend she said, “I was a little nervous.”
In Los Angeles, Kendra, who had already placed first in Georgia’s reading and spelling competition among blind students, competed against blind and visually impaired children from across the country in the National Braille Challenge at the Braille Institute of America.
“I thought it might be a little tough,” she said.
But Kendra has been reading since she was three.
“She’s just always been a voracious reader,” said her mother Stephanie Kieszak-Holloway.
On Saturday Kendra placed first in the Apprentice Level, which tested her reading comprehension, spelling, and ability to proof read using a keyboard called a Perkins Brailler.
“Kendra placed among the top contestants in each age group,” said Courtney Kassel of the Braille Institute of America. “Nearly 900 blind students from across the United States and Canada completed the preliminary testing to qualify for the national competition. But only the top 60 students were selected to travel to Braille Institute’s headquarters in Los Angeles to test their Braille skills against the nation’s best and brightest.”
Kendra received a $1,000 savings bond and a computer with a Braille display called a PacMate.
“This is a great accomplishment for a child,” her mom Stephanie said. “It’s not the fact that she did it in Braille. It’s just the fact that she’s a smart child who won a national competition.”
She and her husband Richard Holloway see their daughter swimming, doing gymnastics and yoga, dancing ballet and tap, earning a place in the gifted program at Hawthorne Elementary School, and participating with her Girl Scout troop, and they are in awe of her.
“She might have different ways of doing things, but she’s doing everything that she would do if she were sighted,” Kieszak-Holloway said. “We always try to think ahead — where do we want her to end up? And we want her to end up in the typical, sighted world. So it makes sense to start her there as early as possible…. My philosophy is not to lower my expectations at all. There are plenty of other people who will try to do that for her. We want her to have high expectations and to realize that she’s just as capable as anybody else. There’s no reason to limit herself.”
Their pride in Kendra is as limitless as Kendra’s vision.
“When I grow up I want to be a statistician like my mom,” Kendra said. “I also want to be a doctor so I can work at the children’s medical group department.”
She has also talked about becoming an FBI agent.
“I sort of like math, but I really like reading and writing,” Kendra said. “And I like recess. A lot.”
And she is absolutely certain — she can do practically anything.
“Yup. Except for reading print.”
Kendra will be a third grader at Hawthorne Elementary next fall. She is the only blind student at the school, where she has lots of friends. She also has a 17-year-old sister, Sarah, and 5-year-old brother, R.J.
Kendra’s mom Stephanie Kieszak-Holloway is President of the Georgia Organization of Parents of Blind Children and 1st VP of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-371-1000 ext. 31