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Visually-impaired student defies the odds and learns how to play football

With the sun beaming down on the blacktop at Bulverde Creek Elementary, fifth-grade students are excited and eager to play some ball.

Ruben Arce is the Special Education teacher on campus and said the afternoon game was a special one.

“This is a football game that’s facilitating the needs of a very specific student with a visual impairment,” he said.  

That student is eleven-year-old Mason Flemmons who suffers from a vision impairment.

“Sometimes I feel like things are blurry and I sometimes feel like things are not blurry sometimes,” the fifth-grader explained.

His dream has always been to learn how to play football.

With the help of Mason’s teachers and classmates who have fostered a nurturing and welcoming environment, that dream has come to pass.

“The first move is just keep running and if you accidentally fall down, get back up,” he said.  

“Mason has been taught the basics of football, the basics of catching a ball, the mechanics of throwing the ball as well,” Arce said.  

Emily Bellamy is Mason’s general education fifth-grade teacher and she’s seen a lot of progress from the first day of school to now.

“Mason came in at the beginning of the year quiet and a little reserved and as the year has gone on and he’s learned things like playing football, it’s boosted his confidence in the classroom so much. He’s made so many friends this year; he has so many friends that back him up on a daily basis,” Bellamy said.

Mason has a few touchdown plays already under his belt and hopes to become a professional football player one day.

“It makes me excited; I feel happy when I make a touchdown too,” he added.

“Mason learning how to play football just shows that anybody can really do anything they set their mind to. Visually-impaired or not, all it takes is a goal or a dream, practice, and people that support you and believe in you. He is the prime example that anybody can literally do anything,” Bellamy said.

Discover the NEISD way, where our educators adapt to students’ individual needs and motivate them to follow their dreams.

Ashley Speller