While having impaired vision presents many challenges, eight year-old Zara Perry's independent spirit and sporting, artistic and singing talents show that it doesn't have to be a limitation. The youngster from Sydney's Northern Beaches hopes to represent Australia at the Paralympics one day.
Born with Albinism, Zara's eyes, like her skin and hair, lack pigmentation. They are sensitive to light and move involuntarily, or as she says they 'jiggle', making it especially hard to see things on the ground.
Since she was three years old, Zara has been receiving specialist training from a Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Orientation and Mobility Instructor. Integral to this has been learning how to use a long cane, and her instructor continuously adjusted the training to suit Zara's changing needs as she's grown from being a toddler to attending primary school. "My cane helps me see things, like logs, sticks or cracks on the ground. It also indicates to people that I have a disability," says Zara.
Zara has learnt how to safely get around school, catch the bus and cross the road. Her instructor has also helped her classmates understand her vision loss by conducting a blindfold exercise. "That's when people got it! After that, my friends would let me know what was happening around me. It made me feel better and more relaxed."
Zara enjoys attending Guide Dogs' school holiday activities where she meets other children with impaired vision and shares how she feels about her disability.
You can help support the training of children with vision impairment so that they can engage with the world around them, just like Zara does. Make a donation today!