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The City Journals

APA student uses her talent to write storybook in Braille

May 17, 2018 01:30PM ● By Julie Slama

American Preparatory Academy sophomore Kristin Jorgensen wrote a book, “Mariposa,” in Braille as a class assignment and had it published. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected] 

When American Preparatory Academy sophomore Kristin Jorgensen was a youngster, she’d play capture the flag, tag and soccer against the boys, always beating them.

“I was faster than they were and they were shorter,” she said.

In middle school, Jorgensen was a member of the choir when she joined the drama team.

“I was shy and awkward, but it was so much fun. I’ve done it for two years now and I’ve made a lot of close friends and really want to perform. It’s been awesome,” she said. 

During what seems like a normal childhood, Jorgensen began to experience vision problems.

“My vision changes all the time. When I couldn’t see, I had a friend write down notes. For the past six years, the doctors haven’t known for sure what my eye problem is. I’m partly blind, but I could become fully blind at any time,” she said, adding that she has had multiple surgeries.

As part of the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind, Jorgensen has been learning Braille from Mirinda Losee, an educational services aide, who comes regularly to teach her at APA.  

“Learning Braille was hard at the beginning because it is a different language,” Jorgensen said.

Losee also points out that it is more difficult for a person with sight to learn Braille.

“Her fingers aren’t as sensitive since she still has some sight, so it’s required more practice and skill to have her learn,” she said. 

As an assignment, Losee had Jorgensen create her own bedtime story featuring an animal. She came back to the next lesson with her story outlined. 

“I love writing and I’ve always had a big imagination, but I never thought about writing a story,” she said.

Losee said that Jorgensen spent a lot time writing and editing her book, which Losee asked her to do completely in Braille. She also wanted Jorgensen to find pictures that sighted readers would appreciate. 

“Even without any pictures, the story is spectacular,” Losee said. “It was a basic assignment that Kristin has taken to the next level and made into something special. She has given her talent in a way that is shared with others.” 

Jorgensen’s story, now in a published book in Braille, is called “Mariposa.” It tells about a shy, adventurous butterfly who felt different from other butterflies. Through the story, Jorgensen tells how Mariposa explored the world around her and because of that, not only gained her colors, but changed inside as well.

“Butterflies are symbolic of change and that’s important, because even though we all change, we all are different and beautiful,” she said. “I used my imagination to describe in detail when I write so readers can understand the butterfly’s texture and how it looks.”

Now with one book written and published, Jorgensen is launching into writing a series of short stories correlating to the holidays, such as why Easter bunnies represent Easter, or Santa Claus brings Christmas gifts. 

While Jorgensen wants to continue to write, she still thinks it would be fun to be an actress or a singer. She had hopes of pursuing photography, but says it now is becoming too difficult to pursue with her limited vision. 

“I’m taking it one day at a time; it’s all I can do,” she said.

Losee said that by writing “Mariposa,” Jorgensen has mirrored her heroine’s example.

“She has strengthened her Braille skills and created a fantastic story to help inspire others to learn and grow for themselves,” she said.