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Long Island Boy Who Is Visually Impaired Receives Toddler Cane From Local Nonprofit

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A toddler's world can mean nonstop motion.

But for little ones who are visually impaired, it can be a world of scary obstacles.

CBS2's Jessica Moore shows how a gift of a special cane can change these youngsters' lives.

Jorge Alcantarez is 3, and the hope is the device will change his life. It's a special cane developed for children between the ages of 1-5 who are blind or seriously visually impaired.

"Safety is everything to learning," said Dr. Grace Ambrose-Zaken, professor of orientation and mobility at Hunter College.

She's one of the developers of the toddler cane.

"When you feel safe, you build self-confidence, you start just doing your natural exploring, interacting with the world," she said.

The cane, developed in conjunction with City College, looks deceptively simple. There's a waistband to hold it in place on the toddler, and it's lightweight enough to maneuver easily, without the challenge for a young child to use a traditional cane.

Jorge's dad is grateful for this important opportunity being given to his son.

"I try the best for him. I pray every day," he said.

The family is currently homeless and the cane has been donated. They cost $625 but are given free to families in need. About 1,200 toddler canes have been given out so far.

"Gives the child the opportunity to be independent. Gives them freedom," said Tara Olson, an occupational therapist with Vision Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired.

Olson says she sees a lot of promise in young Jorge to master the toddler cane.

"He need opportunity for a better life," Jorge's dad said.

And hopefully, with his new cane, the path will be that much easier for this little boy.

Donations help pay for canes for families who cannot afford them. Click here to learn more.

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