Hey everyone, my name is Paloma Rambana, a seventeen-year-old Flordia-based advocate making dreams a reality since 2015.
I was born with a rare vision condition called Peter's Anomaly, which clouds the corneas and has resulted in legal blindness. What the average person can see from 100-200 feet away, I have to stand closer, from about 20 feet away, to see the same thing. In Florida, blind or visually impaired students receive government-funded support from zero to five and fourteen to twenty-two. Blind and visually impaired students from six to thirteen were without this funding. They were left to navigate their first year of elementary school through the final year of middle school without this vital government funding.
In March of 2015, I started a campaign called "Fund the Gap" to ask the Florida Legislature to fund the Division of Blind Services (DBS) Children's Program to help 340 kids in my age group receive the tools they need to succeed. Additionally, on April 16, 2015, and December 1, 2015, I led rallies from the Department of Education (which oversees DBS) to the Florida Capitol to raise awareness of the gap. Former Governor Rick Scott would sign off on a legislative budget request of $1,250,000 to begin funding the gap and an additional $500,000 in recurring funding for the gap.
Following my work with the legislature, I have published a memoir with the support of Hillary Ring titled "Paloma's Dream: The True Story of One Girl's Mission to Help Kids, Inspire Activism and Survive Middle School." Available on my website and amazon. I am a rising senior who will be on staff as the "Notes From The Underground" literary journal public relations manager and Maclay high school's National Art Honors Society president. Currently working on my Gold Award project aims to achieve accessibility for pre-existing public art in Tallahassee. Continuously dedicated to the limitless opportunities surrounding art and accessibility, I remain dedicated to making my dream and the dreams of others a reality.
[Photograph description: Paloma is smiling in a seated wearing a black jumpsuit and white sneakers with her left arm on top of her left leg and right hand on the side of her right leg)
(Photograph credit Ti Adoro Studio Tallahassee)