Teen musician to represent South Florida in national braille reading competition
MIAMI - A local teen musician will represent our community in an upcoming national reading competition.
But Silvio Plata won't actually be able to see the words on the page. He'll be reading Braille.
From the piano to the Brailler, Plata feels right at home with his hands on the keys.
And while he can't see the words or the music, he said he can feel it.
"Music is just something that to me is so liberating," Plata said.
"It's on a whole other level of expression. Certain things words can't express alone. You need that melody to convey those emotions. It's really special to me."
Born in Nicaragua, Silvio came to Miami as an infant where he was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma-- cancer in both eyes.
By the time he was a year old, he had lost his sight but was already getting therapy thanks to organizations like the Miami Lighthouse for The Blind.
"Silvio has been with Miami Lighthouse for nearly his entire life. 17 years of service," Miami Lighthouse President and CEO Virginia Jacko explained.
"Things so simple like telling his mother, let him brush your hair. You do that with a toddler then slowly you teach the blind toddler how to have good mobility skills."
He has honed those skills, excelling in music and Braille literacy.
Silvio will travel to California next week to compete in the Braille Challenge Finals
He will be tested on speed and accuracy, reading comprehension, proofreading, and charts and graphs.
"God had a plan and as soon as I lost my eyesight that plan began to unfold," Plata said.
For this recent G. Holmes Braddock Senior High graduate, that plan now includes a full-ride scholarship to the University of Miami's Frost School of Music.
"Studying music has always been a dream, but I never knew it would be a possibility. I'm very excited about what's coming up," he said.
Music is Silvio's passion, but his ultimate plan is to attend law school.
He will be one of just ten high-school seniors from across the country competing in the Braille Challenge next week.
for more features.