Meet the Ventola Family

- Future In Sight

Ventola Family

Manny Ventola is six years old and while in so many ways he is a typical boy, his diagnosis of Bilateral Anophthalmia – the absence of both eyes – means that Manny has been navigating the world without sight since birth. Manny stands with his white cane next to an Astronaut figureHis parents, Kym and Dan, adopted Manny just before his second birthday and they have been working with Future In Sight as a family ever since. You can read the full Ventola family story in our FY2023 Annual Report or continue reading here to learn more about the Ventolas and what they are doing to help Manny embrace his independence not only in their home but in their community.

When Kym and Dan first became Manny’s foster parents, they had never interacted with someone who was blind or visually impaired before. Their goal, when they began working with Future In Sight, was to adapt their home and their lives to empower Manny to explore and allow him to trulyVentola Family embrace being a child. Through Future In Sight’s TVI (Teachers of students with Visual Impairment) and O&M (Orientation and Mobility) services, Manny received his first white cane and the family was introduced to events and experiences within the community that could help foster self-advocacy and self-determination within Manny while supporting the family as a whole.

As Manny has gotten older, Future In Sight’s team of service providers have helped the Ventolas foster a greater sense of independence for Manny in his home by helping Kym and Dan apply braille labels and bump dots – raised dots used to help identify buttons on devices within the home – throughout their home and stage their mudroom so Manny can independently put away his coat, white cane and backpack when he gets home from school. These small changes have allowed Manny to be a contributing member of their family, teaching him vital lessons he will need to live as independently as possible later in life. Kym recognizes how easy (and timesaving) it would be for her to help Manny with these small tasks, but she believes these early years are an investment in his independence.

It is with this same mindset that Kym tackles the social aspects of Manny’s disability. She remembers how difficult it was when Manny was a toddler to bring him out into public. She explains the looks and questions they would get when attending events at the local library or enjoying a warm afternoon in the park. Manny in TreeIt was heartbreaking for her as a mother to have to shield Manny from that, but it also empowered her. Kym has spent the last few years of her life learning about the social and emotional aspects of the blind and visually impaired community in the hopes of better understanding how she can support Manny throughout his life, but she admits that her first call was to Future In Sight. She says she found Future In Sight’s website and was connected to a member of the Future In Sight team; it was that first interaction that set her mind at ease and made her believe this journey was something her family could go on. Today, the Ventola family – Manny included – embrace people’s questions with a very simple explanation. Kym says they tell the individual that Manny is blind and then Manny usually asks them if they would like to play. This approach has allowed the Ventola family to permit themselves to not feel like it is their job to educate everyone they meet. That being said, Kym says her experience raising Manny has fueled her desire to educate herself. Manny and DollKym is currently pursuing her doctorate in psychology and considering doing her dissertation on the importance of making psychological assessments more inclusive for members of the BVI (blind and visually impaired) community. She credits Future In Sight for helping to pave this path for her, providing invaluable resources throughout and giving her the courage to pursue this path.

The Ventola family works every day to remind Manny that the sky is the limit for his future. They are realistic about the barriers he faces but they believe Future In Sight has given them the training and tools they need to break down those barriers. They also believe Future In Sight has given them something even greater than that – hope.

Learn more about Future In Sight’s youth services here. If you have a child that could benefit from working with Future In Sight, contact us here.