Vision Loss No Barrier to Sun and Surf Fun for Yamba Youth
A Guide Dogs NSW/ACT school holiday program aimed at giving children with vision impairment the opportunity to improve their orientation and mobility skills in a safe and fun environment, had youngsters enjoying a beach day out in Yamba.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Regional Manager, Jeremy Hill, said the aim of the school holiday program was to provide young people with an overview of accessible beach activities such as swimming, assisted body board surfing, and safely exploring the beach and rock pools.
“Our goal is to help children with vision impairment develop their confidence in being close to the water, so that they can enjoy the beach this summer just like any other young person,” Mr Hill said.
The participants also enjoyed a beach walk using a Dakota Disk, which they attached to their long canes to help navigate the different surfaces of the beach.
Mr Hill said along with being a great learning experience, school holiday program like this also allow young participants to meet other children who have vision impairment.
“It gives them the opportunity to socialise and share experiences with each other about having vision loss and what works best for them,” he said.
While training Guide Dogs is an important part of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT's work, the organisation’s 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.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT 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, the organisation assisted close to 500 children with sight loss and continues to rely on the support of the community to fund its free services.
Every day 28 Australians are diagnosed with vision loss that cannot be corrected, including nine who become blind.