Wow, it is hard to believe another week has been and gone. It was an interesting one for Wiley and I. The highlights were a talk to a class of year 9 students on Tuesday and manning an Achilles stall at the Community Expo on Saturday.
Year 9 Talk
To date most of my school talks have been to primary school children, so I was very excited when I was invited to speak to around 100 year 9 science students.
I thought about wanted I wanted to say and decided to share all the various aids I use to get around, access a computer and look after myself and my home. I wanted the students to know that vision loss doesn’t need to limit your independence, quality of life or setting and achieving goals.
Needless to say Guide Dogs featured quite heavily throughout the talk. I spoke about what they are trained to do and how I work with Wiley. I gave a demonstration walking Wiley around where people were sitting. Everyone had a good view of how I use body position, verbal commands and hand signals to give Wiley direction and commands. I wanted to dispel the myth that Guide Dogs do all the work. I also made sure to get ‘the don’t distract a working Guide Dog’ message across loud and clear.
I even managed to get a little bit of genetics in as I spoke about the Guide Dog breeding program. I thought that was a good point to highlight to a science class.
I took the opportunity to share the best way to offer assistance, give directions and communicate with someone who is blind or vision impaired.
Guide Dogs and the technology I use seemed to generate the most interest. I had some thoughtful questions and the students remained quiet and attentive throughout the presentation. I had a great time, I hope the students also enjoyed themselves.
Saturday the Achillies group had a stall at the Canberra Community Expo. It was held at the Kingston Bus depot markets and featured a whole range of difference community groups that people could join. There were lots of different performances throughout the day, we were entertained by bands and singers on a nearby stage- my toes were tapping the whole time.
Our job was to let people know about Achilles and to encourage them to come along and enjoy a walk or run. We had several people stop by and collected contact details so we could provide more information to anyone who was interested. A guide and I did a walk through the crowd using a tether to show people how guide running works. We used simulation glasses so people could experience what it is like to be vision impaired and guided via a tether.
During the walk around we stopped to chat to other stall holders. I never knew there are so many interesting things to do in and around Canberra. An Achilles volunteer, Wiley and I dropped by the 1RPH stall so we could arrange a radio interview about the group. Hopefully this will get the word out to people who are disabled and may enjoy or benefit from walking or running.
My knees are still hurting, I just hope I can keep them functioning until I cross the finish line in about 7 weeks. I completed three of the weeks four training sessions on the treadmill but ran with my wonderful guide for a long run on Sunday. We ran for 110 minutes and covered almost 18km – a new PDR. We went around the west basin of Lake Burley Griffin, passing some of Canberra’s most iconic landmarks. It was great running weather, foggy, overcast and even a little mist to help keep us cool. We have now run most of the actual half marathon course.
The upcoming week is another busy one, but I do have one day with nothing on. I can’t wait to have an extra long bush walk and lots of cuddle time with Wiley.