Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement

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Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.


An Early-Blooming Volunteer
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At the tender age of 12, precocious Candice Coll was on the lookout for a volunteer opportunity. She was seeking a nonprofit that she felt passionate about, to make sure that the time she spent would be meaningful and life-changing for those she helped. Candice has always been an avid reader; discovering RFB&D, she found it to be the perfect choice. “What would my life be without books?" Candice says. "I found out that one in seven Americans has difficulty reading because of diminished sight or dyslexia, and so I wanted to do something that could help so many people accomplish their educational goals and get the education that they deserve.” Candice Coll, 17 year old volunteer at Learning Ally, sitting at microphone, recording a book in the studio Now 17, Candice volunteers every Saturday morning at the Learning Ally Santa Barbara studio, and began her encounter by marking the books that volunteers would record. With five years of studio experience, Candice reads or directs the subjects of Science, Psychology, and English, and elementary-level textbooks. In fact she says, “I do a lot of things while I’m volunteering. Wherever the studio supervisor needs me…I’m there!” The high-achieving Candice doesn’t stop at recording and directing. While a student at Laguna Blanca High School, Candice founded the RFB&D Club to provide awareness and raise money for the nonprofit she cares so much about. She recently moved on to the elite Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, and founded yet another club at her new school, and already has a dozen students signed up to help her with the cause. Candice makes it her personal mission to spread the news about Learning Ally, and acts as a community ambassador for our organization. The bilingual high school student has gone into area schools to help Spanish speaking parents enroll their children in our programs. Candice’s enthusiasm is contagious, and her mother Sandra also became a volunteer, leading Candice to become involved with the local Learning Ally fund development committee. In an award-winning essay for the Soroptomist Club, Candice talks about the fact that RFB&D/Learning Ally “…has been a very rewarding and important experience in my life…by helping someone who is physically challenged to overcome their limitations and significantly improve their quality of life. Volunteering for Learning Ally is something that I hope I will do for the rest of my life.” Learning Ally Los Angeles was delighted to have Candice and her mom Sandra visit during the 19th Annual Record-A-Thon last month, where Candice did some recording for our students, participated in a Q&A with author Leigh Purtill, and acted as a volunteer spokesperson for the press. -Diane Kelber


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