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Students with Visual Impairment Enjoyed Scavenger Hunt and Shopping at Maine Mall on December 12, 2023

December 14, 2023

Portland, Maine - ‘Tis the season to join the crowds and hit the stores trying to find the perfect Christmas gifts. This season can be challenging for everyone ­- but imagine navigating the holiday hustle and bustle as a person with visual impairment.

For decades, Catholic Charities Maine’s Education Services for Blind and Visually Impaired Children (ESBVIC) has provided an annual learning experience for sixth to twelfth grade students with vision impairment at local shopping centers. On Tuesday, December 12, a group spent the day at the Maine Mall in South Portland.

The day started with a scavenger hunt that challenged the young shoppers to find common items, budget their time and money, and purchase items around the mall. The goal was to provide students with a better understanding of the different stores and variety of items available in a mall, but the day was about a lot more.

“It’s a fun time to be at the mall, and the students look forward to it. The crowds can be challenging but also make for a realistic shopping experience for the kids,” said Nancy Moulton, ESBVIC Program Director. “Our program is about more than academic success; our Teachers for the Visually Impaired (TVIs) also teach self-determination and important life skills.”

Moulton noted that students worked with their peers and independently, and the time at the mall helped students flex their skills for social interaction, independent living, recreation and leisure interests and sensory efficiency. The scavenger hunt also reinforced their use of assistive technology.

“This learning experience required students to use their technology tools to conduct internet searches to answer questions about the mall. They also will be using their low vision devices while searching for specific items in the mall,” Moulton described.

The hunt was followed by lunch at the food court and time for the students to shop independently. “It was a challenging day that also celebrated the fun and excitement of the holiday season,” Moulton said.

About Catholic Charities Maine
Since 1966, Catholic Charities Maine has provided high-quality, community-based social services to people of all faiths, beliefs, and economic backgrounds. As one of the largest human service agencies in the state, we are committed to helping children and adults overcome adversity and achieve self-sufficiency through our 20+ programs. Please learn more at

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