Children with sight loss reach new heights | Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

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01 May, 2018

Children with sight loss reach new heights

Four children sitting on a log in their harnesses & helmets

These school holidays, primary and high school-aged children with sight loss scaled new heights at an action-packed day at TreeTops Central Coast in Ourimbah.

Organised by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, the free mobility day gave children the chance to get out of their comfort zones and build confidence and a sense of adventure in a safe, fun and encouraging environment.

“There are many social and personal benefits for young people who are blind or vision impaired to be able to participate in challenging physical activities like those offered at TreeTops,” said Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Jody Morris.

Three girls getting ready to climb an obstacle at TreeTops

“Experiencing success through participation in challenging activities enable young people to overcome boundaries and achieve more than they thought was possible.”

Jody said the day also gave kids the opportunity to connect socially with others with a vision impairment.

“Guide Dogs school holiday mobility days not only provide children with valuable life skills and challenging experiences aiming to develop team work, communication skills, self-advocacy and self-confidence, but also the opportunity to enjoy a fun day out with other kids of a similar age who also experience vision loss,” Jody said.

A young boy with sight loss walking across a tall obstacle course

Thanks to the generosity of TreeTops Central Coast, all activities were provided for free to the children and Guide Dogs staff.

TreeTops Operations Manager, Sarah Watkins, said TreeTops aims to be completely inclusive.

“Our aim is to give kids of all abilities the opportunity to push boundaries and get active. We also have tactile features on all our safety equipment so it is accessible for anyone who is blind or vision impaired,” Sarah said.  

Isobel Coady swinging through the air on an obstacle course

Isobel Coady, who is eight years old and has been vision impaired from birth, said her favourite part of the day was overcoming her fears.

“At first I was scared of the really high obstacles. My Grandma didn’t think I was going to do it, but I proved her wrong,” Isobel said.

While training Guide Dogs is an important part of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s work, the most common program is showing people with impaired vision how to safely move through different environments, using a range of mobility aids and electronic devices.

The organisation provides a wide range of free services to assist a child with vision impairment to participate freely in everyday activities at school, at home and in the local community.

Last year, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT assisted 493 children with sight loss and the organisation continues to rely on the support of the community to fund its services. All services are provided at no cost to those who need them.  

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

For more information about TreeTops Central Coast please visit www.treetops.com.au