ForSight outing gives vision-impaired York kids a chance to fish
The trees on the hill to the east had started to bloom, and the couple of cows grazing on the sloping, bucolic green hill to the west chewed their cud calmly, gazing down on the people fishing in the creek below.
But it was mostly the non-visual parts of the beautiful morning, like the warm sun bringing the late-morning temperatures clambering up through the 70s, that many of the anglers could really sense.
The 13-or-so York County kids fishing in the stream were blind.
The children, all with varying levels of visual impairment, were accompanied by parents and guardians on a fishing expedition in Lower Chanceford Township put on by ForSight Vision.
The kids cast their rods into Toms Run, where the little creek passes through an area reached by roads twisting through rolling farmland in the area of the village of Airville. The adults threw back all the fish they caught alive — after making sure the kids got the chance to touch the scaly beings.
ForSight Vision, previously known as York County Blind Center, has run this event for several years now. The organization used to put it on for visually impaired adults, and at some point it transitioned to being geared toward kids, said organization president William Rhinesmith. ForSight Vision puts it on with the help of Muddy Creek Trout Unlimited.
"We might have a few more kids than usual this year," Rhinesmith said.
This was the second straight year York City's Sean Giblen had brought his 4-year-old daughter, Vivienne, to the event.
"She's talked about it all week," he said.
Giblen sat by the water's edge, and Vivienne sat in his lap. She moved her hands around the reel and the lower part of the rod, letting her fingers do the sensing. She declined, however, to touch the worm her dad held in front of her before he put it on the hook as bait.
Catches: Muddy Creek Trout co-founder Ronald Heuston watched one of the kids on the far shore, a completely blind boy named Luis, catch yet another fish. The fish, a decent-sized creature, fought against the line, struggling in the water, but Luis kept reeling it in. One of the volunteers snagged it with a net once it cleared the water.
Heuston speculated out loud how much that experience must be different for someone who couldn't see the climax of that series of events take place; Luis could only feel the tugging on the rod and hear the shouts of encouragement.
"The things we take for granted," Heuston said.
Many of the kids can see at least a little bit up close. Leyshka Melendez could make out many of the fish in the creek, she said. She wanted to catch one of the "yellow ones" — palomino trout — but was pleased with the large silver fish she hauled in.
"It was really cool," the 10-year-old said. "It was as long as my arm."
This was her first time fishing, and she caught three fish — one very small, one a bit bigger and the impressive trout she reeled in last.
"They're smart," she said, shaking her head. "They're used to not being caught."
By a little after 11 a.m. Leyshka'd had about enough fishing for the day. She counted it as a solid first fishing outing.
"I was satisfied with that," she said.
— Reach Sean Philip Cotter at email@example.com.