Eight-year-old B.C. girl wins national braille writing contest

A tale featuring dragons, an evil queen and stolen shadows may sound like the introduction to a fantasy book by C.S.

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Lewis or JRR Tolkien, but is in reality an award winner written by an eight-year-old Victoria, B.C. girl.

Maggie Wehrle's "The Underground Festival," where shadows are harvested to feed the earth, earned her top spot in her age category in the Canadian National Institute for the Blind's annual writing contest.

Wehrle suffers from rod-cone dystrophy, a condition that can make peoples' eyes refuse to stay still and focus on an object. Someone who suffers from the condition can detect shapes and light but not much else.

"My eyes are really unfocused, sometimes. Or rather all the time," she told CTV Vancouver Island.

To expand her world, Wehrle turned to books and writing.

She started reading and writing using braille at the age of four, which she has used to understand how the world looks.

"I sort of wish I could read print because then it would to get the books and it would be easier, well, for most things to be done," she says.

Daphne Hitchcock, Wehrle's teacher, says the award has helped boost Wehlre's confidence and validate her skills as a writer.

Wehrle agrees, and is hard at work on her next novel about an overweight cat and its owner.

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Chandler Grieve



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