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18 October, 2016

Mastering a tough obstacle challenge

A participant climbing up a narrow wooden ladder to a tower of tyres.

Fun Mobility Day takes participants outside their comfort zone

Climbing ropes and suspended ladders, and wading through water holes and mud pits along a 1.5km track would be a challenging task for any person, but just imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t see.  

On Sunday, Western Sydney residents with vision loss will be put to the test as they compete in an outdoor obstacle course as part of a Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Mobility Day.

Held in Cataract Scout Park in Appin, participants will tackle various physical challenges along an army-style track called ‘Challenge Valley.’   
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Orientation & Mobility Specialist, Haylee Tumanik, said the obstacle course activity will provide a fun yet challenging day for clients.  

A participant reaches the end of concrete tunnel, which she has had to crawl through on her stomach. A Guide Dogs instructor waits at the end to help her out of the tunnel.

“We wanted to organise an activity that would challenge them physically and get them out of their comfort zone,” Haylee said.

“It’s also a great social opportunity, as participants on the day will be able to meet other people with vision loss and find some common ground. It’s great to see new friendships formed after our Mobility Days.”

As a participant of previous Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Mobility Days, Anthony Mahr, who is blind and has a Guide Dog, agreed that the social side was particularly enjoyable. 

“It’s a good chance to meet new people, as well as catch up with old friends that you don’t see very often,” Anthony said.

“It also gives you an opportunity to try different activities you normally wouldn’t do.”

One of the first to sign up to the event, Anthony was excited to take on the grueling obstacle course.

“I’m looking forward to the fitness side of it, and to see how hard it really is. I’m definitely up for the challenge,” Anthony said prior to the day.

A Guide Dogs Orientation and Mobility Specialist helps guide a participant along a wooden balance beam.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is the leading provider of Guide Dogs and other services that enable people with impaired vision to get around their communities safely and independently.

Programs tailored to meet the needs of each individual 

Each year the organisation’s highly trained Orientation & Mobility Specialists work with around 4,000 people of all ages to help them achieve their mobility goals. Programs are tailored to meet the lifestyle needs of each individual, and most training is delivered locally, in the person’s home, community or work environment. All services are provided at no cost to clients.

The event is one day after International White Cane Day, in which Guide Dogs NSW/ACT launched a new campaign, Don't Delay, Seek Help Today, after a survey found that one in four respondents waited more than ten years between diagnosis and seeking assistance from the organisation.

Every day 28 Australians are diagnosed with uncorrectable vision loss, including nine who become blind.