Area mom will bring experience, knowledge to state’s Council for the Blind

By: 
Lisa Ingebrand, Life/Enterprise

Cooper Bahnsen, 13, who is legally blind, proudly wears the message #notbroken. (Photo courtesy of Bahnsens)

Krista Bahnsen sees.

She sees her almost- 14-year-old son, Cooper, struggle, adapt, and overcome challenges every day.

Cooper is legally blind. He also has cerebral palsy, ADHD, and is cognitively delayed due to a stroke he suffered in utero. He is also outgoing, funny, a sports enthusiast, and quick to find a good deal on tickets to sporting events.

“He’ll try just about anything. He’s in eighth grade and is already looking for a job… He’s a good kid, who has overcome a lot, and still does. Nothing holds him back,” stated Bahnsen, who hopes her struggles and victories will ultimately help others in her new role as an advocate for blind people throughout Minnesota.

Governor Tim Walz appointed Bahnsen to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind in June.

“My appointment is ‘Advocate or Parent for Individuals Who are Blind with Multiple Disabilities,’” Bahnsen explained. “It’s exciting. I’ve learned so much already and we’ve only had one meeting, and I hope to bring to the table some ideas on how to positively impact policies, based on my own real world parenting experiences.”

The council’s first meeting was held August 1 in St. Paul.

“I didn’t know anyone on the counsel, but everyone was very inviting and there was good discussion,” she shared. “There’s a lot of good information and resources out there. Learning how to advocate and not just complain is important, and so is knowing your rights.”

As a single mom, Bahnsen struggled juggling her work as a nurse and raising four kids. Ultimately, Cooper’s needs trumped everything.

“As probably any parent of a special needs child will tell you, it isn’t easy,” Bahnsen stated. “There are lots of doctor and therapy appointments, which require him to miss school, which then causes issues at school… Or we need to figure out a better way for him to participate in class—use a new tool… It’s always something. Some days are a constant struggle.”

Cooper attended Waterville- Elysian-Morristown Schools until the spring of this year before transferring to the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind in Faribault.

“He misses his friends at WEM, but is doing well. He uses an....

To see more on this story pick up the September 12, 2019 print edition of the Messenger, Life or Enterprise.

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