Self-Advocacy by Mentors

Self-Advocacy by Mentors – Virtual

Program Dates: August 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 2020

Time: 1:00 P.M. to 2:30 P.M. (Eastern Time)

Ages 11 to 17 (grades 6 through 11)

In Self-Advocacy by Mentors, come join the conversation with young adults and professionals as they share their first-hand experiences about walking through life’s transitions with a visual impairment. From college students to entrepreneurs and professional athletes, students will learn about self-determination, self-advocacy, and perseverance through school and beyond. Advice will be shared on how to improve interpersonal skills, access vision services as a community member and learn to be the educator. Students will discuss real life situations, consider the perspectives of others and learn about options for responding. This engaging series is sure to be meaningful to students of all ages and concludes with a daily question and answer session.


Topics Covered in the Course Include:

  • Self-Advocacy in school, work and daily life
  • Improving your interpersonal skills
  • Navigating daily challenges
  • Educating others about vision loss


Guest Speakers Will Include:

  • Professional Skateboarders

Justin Bishop

Justin lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and lost his vision ten years ago due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and refused to give up on his greatest passion: skateboarding. After losing his sight, he worked as an ABA certified instructor with adolescents and then earned the opportunity to be a professional skateboarder. Learn more on Justin Bishop’s Instagram page.

Dan Mancina

Dan lives in Michigan, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) at age 13 and lost his vision in his late 20’s. Currently, he is a professional skateboarder and recently completed his degree to be a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT) from Western Michigan University. Learn more on Dan Mancina’s Instagram page.

  • Entrepreneurs

Bradford Manning & Bryan Manning

Brothers Bradford and Bryan were diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease at the age of seven. They have completed high school, played Lacrosse, graduated from college with double majors and founded their own start-up called Two Blind Brothers. Bradford and Bryan donate 100% of profits from Two Blind Brothers to research focused on developing therapies for retinal eye disease cures.

  • Engineer and Scientist

Dr. Mona Minkara

Mona was diagnosed with macular degeneration and cone-rod dystrophy at age seven. She attended Massachusetts public schools, Wellesley College, and the University of Florida striving for academic advancement and success. Currently, Mona is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at Northeastern University. In 2019, she was awarded the Holman Prize from the Lighthouse from the Blind and filmed a documentary series called Planes, Trains, and Canes, where she navigated the public transportation systems of six cities around the world. Learn more about Dr. Mona Minkara on her website here.

  • International Writer and Poet

Dave Steele

Dave is an award-winning poet, author, public speaker, singer, and advocate for the blind from Manchester, United Kingdom. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in 2014, Dave was left “severely sight impaired” and he began expressing his feelings through poetry. His books of poetry include Stand By Me RP Volume I, II, and III. Learn more about Dave Steele on his website here.

  • Boston Renegades Beep Baseball Team Members

Justen Proctor

Justen had never played team sports in his life. In 2009, he decided to come with his brother to check out the Renegades and was encouraged to join the team. By the 2011 season, he quickly had become one of the league’s best defensive players earning a World Series all-star award. Just as was setting team records for most defensive stops in a season (77 stops), he had finished his MBA and took a job back in his home of Hawaii. In 2016, his career brought him back to New England and to the Renegades. It was no coincidence that his return was paired with the Renegades making its first ever NBBA championship game as his defensive prowess was on hand again. Off the field, Justen is a big part of the team working to help arrange most of the travel arrangements. His love of travel comes in handy booking flights for the various World Series locations. Read more about Justen Proctor and the Boston Renegades Beep Baseball Team here.

David Sanchez

David moved to Worcester in the winter of 2018 and through a google search found the Renegades. Originally from Puerto Rico, he later moved to North Carolina. David has been an avid baseball fan his whole life and loves to play this sport after he was deemed legally blind with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in 2008. Sanchez has a military background, Sergeant for the 82nd Airborne Division in the army. Anyone who can jump out of an airplane can quickly adapt to putting on a blindfold and running to the bases at top speed! He is currently enrolled in a training program for chefs in Florida. Read more about David Sanchez and the Boston Renegades Beep Baseball Team here.

Brian Manning

Brian is a high school student with a visual impairment interning at Watertown Cable this summer. He has an interest in becoming a reporter. Brian will be co-hosting the interview of Justen Proctor and David Sanchez.

  • Academics, College Students and more

Casandra Xavier

Casandra was born deaf-blind and attended mainstream schools her entire life. She was a former student of the Carroll Center for the Blind. She lives in Brighton, MA. She graduated from CCB in 2014. She also attended Blind Inc. in Minneapolis, MN and graduated in 2015. She had to advocate for herself much more than ever to get basic accommodations. Once she gained access to the resources available to her, she allowed herself to utilize everything to its maximum and more. She is now an assistive technology trainer for the blind and visually impaired at another blindness organization. Outside of teaching assistive technology, she is also a disability advocate through the DPC (Disability Policy Consortium) of Boston. Through the years of her experiences, she learned that if you do not speak up OR do research, you will never get help. Check out Casandra Xavier’s Instagram page.

Antonia Lliteras Espinosa

Born with oculocutaneous albinism in Spain, Antonia struggled in a world where she felt she was too blind to be sighted but too sighted to be blind. Now settled in Texas to start a graduate program in Social Work, Antonia continues to learn new technology skills and build on previous skills related to being visually impaired in school, the workplace and in the community. Learn more about Antonia Lliteras Espinosa.

Precious Perez

Currently enrolled in Berklee College of Music with goals to become a Music Teacher, Precious grew up just outside of Boston in Chelsea, MA. Precious experienced TVI and O&M services throughout elementary and secondary public school. She has developed into her own best advocate and wants to share her experiences with you. Read more about Precious Perez.

Dorlyn Catron

Dorlyn is a young adult living independently in Washington D.C. after losing her sight from diabetic retinopathy in her early 20’s. Proud of her growth in self-advocacy,
self-determination, and independent travel skills with her white cane first and now her guide dog, Tank, she looks forward to sharing her experiences.



  • Allison Zocchi, M.Ed., COMS

If you are interested in attending one of our Virtual Youth Summer Programs, our admissions team is ready to answer any questions you may have. Please contact us at (617) 969-6200, extension 216 or by email at

Out-of-state individuals who are registered with their local state blindness agency should make an inquiry to their case manager.

Learn about all of our 2020 Youth Summer Programs here.