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28 June, 2017

Castle Hill local aims for the stars

Lara performing on The Voice while sitting at a piano

Castle Hill local and The Voice Australia artist Lara Nakhle may only be 19-years-old but she has ambitious plans for the future.

The Voice coach Seal was instantly amazed by Lara’s audition performance, as well as fellow coach Kelly, who both battled to win Lara to their team.

Being blind since birth has not impacted Lara’s dreams to become a professional singer and while she has now left The Voice she plans to work on releasing her own EP within the next 12 months while also studying Psychology full time at university.

“I was nervous walking onto the stage before the music started, but it was the best feeling when the audience started cheering during my performance. I was so surprised when Seal said he and Kelly had turned and while I was only there a short time I learned a lot from the show,” said Lara.

Lara has used Guide Dogs NSW/ACT services since she was a toddler to assist her in finding confidence and independence for school life. She has worked closely with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Regional Manager Regina Renfree to learn routes around her school, how to get on and off the bus safely as well as safety around the home. She has also been trained to use the Trekker Breeze GPS mobility aid, which helps Lara find her way on buses.

“It has been wonderful working with Lara over the years, training her to use a long cane and other mobility devices. It was such a surprise and delight to see her perform on The Voice,” said Regina.

“While we are best known for providing Guide Dogs, we also offer a wide range of other orientation and mobility services for people with sight loss.”

Last year, Lara received orientation and mobility training to assist with finding her way around Macquarie University safely and independently.

“Before university started last year, I had about three weeks of mobility training three times a week so that on my first day, I wouldn’t get lost. My mobility instructor taught me to get to lecture theatres, cafes, to and from the bus stop and many other locations,” said Lara.

“If I hadn’t received any mobility training from Guide Dogs, I would have found university to be much scarier but most importantly, I wouldn’t have the confidence I do now to be able to walk into a lecture theatre by myself. I feel the same as everyone else and being blind does not stop me doing things.”

Lara hopes that with continued training from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT she will find the independence to continue her music career not only in Australia but also abroad.

“I am currently working with my Orientation and Mobility Specialist to learn the route to and from work,” Lara said.

“If it wasn’t for Guide Dogs, I wouldn’t have any of the skills to travel independently and I would still find basic things extremely challenging. This support has given me confidence for the future that one day, I’ll hopefully be able to travel everywhere by myself, which would significantly impact my singing, as one day I would like to travel the world.”

Every day, 28 Australians are diagnosed with vision loss that cannot be corrected, including nine who become blind.