Red Deer Public School District

Grade Four Braille Champion

From Winning the Hearts of His Teachers to Winning a Provincial Braille Competition - Meet Caden Johnson, One Extraordinary Kid.  

By: Lexi Wright

Cliff diving, rollerblading, biking and even downhill skiing, Caden Johnson, a grade four École Mountview Elementary student has done every outdoor activity a nine-year-old boy could ever dream of doing, despite the fact that he is legally blind.

Caden was born with a genetic disease called Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) which means there is no protein in the gene feeding his retinas.

“You're officially legally blind if your vision is 20/200 so that means what I see at 200 feet away, Caden would have to be 20 feet away. Caden's vision is about 20/800, so we're not sure how he's seeing”, says his mother, Tera Johnson.

Although Caden’s visual impairment hasn’t always made life easy for his parents, Johnson has kept positive spirits.

“At some point  it was like okay, we have to figure this out. So we did and we just said, he's going to be raised as if he's blind, not as if there will be a cure”, says Johnson.

Being legally blind doesn’t limit Caden and in fact, Caden even says it has its perks.

“At the airport, we get to go to the front of the line so we don't have to wait at the back when going through security”, chuckles Caden.

Caden recently placed first in the Alberta Regional Braille Challenge and now is moving on to the final North American competition in Los Angeles on June 17th.

It is undeniable that Caden has not only inspired his family, but also his classmates. Caden’s positive energy and vast enthusiasm for adventure shines outwardly.

 

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Caden Johnson (center), receives all his assignments in braille and excels academically.

On Friday May 5th, Caden’s adventures continued, having the opportunity to meet and introduce the Federal Minister for Sports and Disabilities at a school assembly and media conference for a major funding event regarding the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

Johnson says Caden is loving life and his self-motivation has never halted.

“I think right now is a really great time is his life. Kids are so easy. It's like, he's just Caden. He goes to all the birthday parties just like everybody else. Everybody has their own differences”.

Principal of École Mountview Elementary School, Diane Roberts, acknowledges the excellent support from Mountview students and staff since Caden started school. Facility Services has also played a role in allowing Caden to feel just like any other kid.

“Facility Services personnel have been really good at accommodating different needs that we've had. They put in sidewalk blocks out the back entrance because we wanted Caden to be able to enter each year with his peers and not have just a special ‘Caden door’”, says Roberts.

Much of Caden’s support comes through his Educational Assistant, Helen Beatty, who started working with Caden five years ago when he started kindergarten.

“It's not what he can't do, it's what he can do. Caden is just an amazing kid and I love working with him”, beams Beatty.

Johnson admits that without the help of Beatty, Caden may not have received the support he needed to be able to go to the final braille competition.

“The only thing I can say is that Helen has done something for our son that we couldn't do. So if you're a parent and you think about it that way, it's amazing. We're very, very grateful”, says Johnson.