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10 July, 2015

School holiday adventure

Group shot of the school holiday program participants with the Newcastle Knights players

School holiday mobility adventure with the Newcastle Knights

Noah Johns met his rugby league heroes, the Newcastle Knights as part of the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT school holiday program, Mobility Adventures on Thursday.

The eight year old, who has low vision, wore his Dad's signed jersey from 2001, the last time the team won the grand final, as he took part in an on-field kicking clinic.

Noah who is a relative of famous Knights' players, Andrew and Matthew Johns, was one of seven children to participate in the program developed specifically for children and teenagers who are blind or vision impaired.

Knights' players Robbie Rochow, Jack Stockwell and James Taylor were on hand to help the children improve their orientation and mobility skills in a supportive group environment, thanks to nib foundation's support of the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT program.

"It was so exciting to meet the players," said Noah. "It is the first time I have ever met any players from the Knights and they were so nice to me."

Along with the clinic, the participants met players after their morning training session who were more than happy to sign memorabilia.

Belinda Carroll, Regional Manager for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT said the visit not only provided a unique experience for the children but also for the players, who were given an insight into the difficulties those with vision impairment face every day.

"A key component of the program is to provide opportunities for kids to take part in activities that improve physical skills in a fun, friendly, encouraging and safe environment. We're certainly taking this to a new level today, with members of the Newcastle Knights NRL playing squad taking part in the activities with the participants," Ms Carroll said.

nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe said it was pleasing to see the athletes and children brought together by nib's major sponsorship of the Newcastle Knights and nib foundation's support of the Mobility Program.

"It is a wonderful opportunity, not only for the kids to increase their participation in sport but to do so alongside some of the stars of the Newcastle Knights," Mrs Tribe said.

After the training visit, the participants continued on their day-long mobility adventure program throughout Newcastle, where they visited Hunter Stadium and used their orientation and mobility skills to catch public transport.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT supports children with vision impairment and their families by providing 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 447 children and continues to rely on the support of the Hunter community.