An Interview with Charlotte Brown, Visually Impaired High School Athlete

We’ve written previously about Charlotte Brown, the legally blind Texas teenager who participates in basketball and runs cross country, and even holds her high school’s record in the pole vault. She was recently featured in the New York Times article, It’s Just Another Hurdle for Blind Athletes, which noted that “it is extremely rare for the visually impaired to compete in the pole vault. It is one of track and field’s riskiest and most technically demanding events, requiring competitors to sprint down a runway, plant the pole in a box, invert their bodies and turn 180 degrees while flying over a crossbar.”

AFB’s CareerConnect program manager Joe Strechay recently had the opportunity to speak with Charlotte and ask her some questions about how she participates in sports, and what advice she would offer to other teenagers who are visually impaired. Charlotte had the following to say:

I have been fortunate to be raised in a family who never treated me differently. My parents told me, at a very young age, that “everyone in this world struggles with something and that my vision was going to be my something, so I would need to figure it out and get on with living my life.” That was probably one of the biggest moments in my life; I was 3 years old at the time.

I have been surrounded by positive attitudes from so many people. My family, physicians, teachers, coaches, etc., have always encouraged me, helped keep my safe but most importantly, they never said “You can’t.” My father has said many times, “We never told Charlotte ‘no’, we never told her she couldn’t do something, we only asked her ‘How’?”

I think the message I would pass on to anyone my age (visually impaired or NOT) is don’t put limits on yourself. No matter how impossible something may seem, there is a way to do it! It may not be the conventional method, but it IS possible. If you are interested in trying something:

1) Ask yourself, “How can I do this?” Stay positive.

2) Practice, practice, practice. Success WILL come!

3) No matter what, never give up and NEVER, EVER quit.

Read the complete, two-part interview with Charlotte on APH CareerConnect.