Last year's Team Guide Dogs marathon participants holding a Team Guide Dogs frame

Have you ever wanted to run or walk across the Auckland Harbour Bridge?

With stunning views throughout the course, the ASB Auckland Marathon is one of the most scenic city marathons in the world and definitely one to tick off the bucket list.

We are looking for runners (and walkers) to join Team Guide Dogs at the Auckland Marathon, Sunday 29 October and raise vital funds for the breeding and training of guide dogs.

As part of Team Guide Dogs you will receive; a running vest, a personalised training guide, expert fundraising advice, a chance to meet guide dog puppies in training, an invite to join us for refreshments and a massage at the finish line and much more.

For more information and to join Team Guide Dogs for this year’s race, please complete this quick form and tell us why you want to join the team. If you have any questions please contact run@blindfoundation.org.nz or call 0800 120 254.

Your support will transform lives, join Team Guide Dogs today!

PS: If this event is not for you, you can still make a huge difference by sharing this with someone you know who might be interested.

Abel Tasman tramp participants at Bark Bay Hut

The Community and Life Enrichment Team at the Blind Foundation puts on a range of activities throughout the country to cater to the various needs and wants of our clients.

From challenges like the 7 Day Challenge, which covered 700km, to coffee and craft groups.  There are options to suit many different interests.

This month one of those great activities was the National Tramp, which this year took place in the Abel Tasman National Park.

12 Blind Foundation clients from across New Zealand, along with nine staff and volunteers, took on the four-day hike from Marahau to Totoranui.

The event had many different purposes, for some it was to extend walking experience and outdoor skills. For others it was about being able to continue participating in a hobby in a supported and safe environment. Whatever the reason was for attending the tramp, it was a great opportunity for a personal challenge, both mentally and physically. As well as meeting other clients with common outdoor interests from around NZ.

Over the four days, the group walked up to six hours a day exploring what the National Park had to offer. Accommodation included Department of Conservation huts, nestled within the native New Zealand bush. Cooking was done on camp stoves while everyone gathered around enjoying laughter and each other’s company.

The tramp finished with waiting for the tide to be able to cross the famous Awaroa estuary walk to meet the water taxi at Totoranui. Everyone then enjoyed a stunning water taxi excursion back to Marahau, experiencing the sea and wildlife along the way.

One participant of the tramp said on reflection, “I enjoyed meeting a new bunch of people of varying ages. I also enjoyed the free time and the opportunity for relaxation, it was such a peaceful place!”

If you are interested in participating, or volunteering for recreational events such as this, call and have a chat to our Community and Life Enrichment Team on 0800 24 33 33.

South Island Blind Foundation staff and clients at the tandem bike ride.

On a cool April morning in Auckland, 11 Blind Foundation clients, four Community and Life Enrichment staff and six volunteers made their way to Onehunga for this year’s North Island Regional Tandem Bike Ride.

The 25 km cycle started from Taumanu Reserve, taking participants over the old Mangere Bridge and along the Manukau Harbour shore line to Ambury Farm. Stopping along the way for lunch, the team then continued on the gravel path through Ambury Farm out to Puketutu Island.

The day was created as an introduction to tandem bike riding.  It provided clients of the Blind Foundation recreational opportunity to experience riding a bike through different environments.

One participant from the day said, “it was a good day, with the fine weather, we all enjoyed the exercise as most of us are new to cycling, I enjoyed the challenge of trying something new.”

This wasn’t the first regional tandem bike ride to take place this year, as the South Island equivalent took place in March. The South Island Regional Tandem Bike Ride took place over two days and covered a total of 73km.

Starting in Lawrence, the ride took participants over the Clutha Gold Cycle Trail, riding 42 km and staying overnight at Millers Flat Holiday park. They then rode 31km the following day finishing up at The Roxburgh Dam.

Blind Foundation client Pete Ruddenklau was determined to finish the whole distance, even though he had to push through rain and a sore backside on the last day. Pete finished and was really pleased he carried on and completed the full distance. “I loved every bit of it, couldn’t fault it. I had a great guide on my bike who told me all about the history of the region as we went along and what we were passing. I would recommend it to everyone,” said Pete.

Blind Foundation Community and Life Enrichment staff with professors.

Two leading scholars in the field of recreation and sports for people who are blind or have low vision, Dr. Lauren Lieberman and Dr. Pamela Beach, have wrapped up their tour of New Zealand.

Dr. Lieberman is currently a Distinguished Service Professor at The College at Brockport in the area of Adapted Physical Education. Dr. Lieberman’s areas of research include Inclusion Strategies as well as Physical Activity for Youth with Sensory Impairments. She has published more than 85 articles in referenced journals, as well as 18 books.

Dr. Pamela Beach’s area of expertise is Motor Learning and Motor Development. She has published a first-of-its-kind textbook entitled Motor Learning and Motor Development, thus joining the two fields into one comprehensive undergraduate textbook.

Hosted by the Blind Foundation, the professors from The College of Brockport State University of New York led talks around the country sharing their knowledge, research and perspectives on inclusion strategies and movement development.

Lieberman and Beach’s presentation had special relevance for all those interested in providing increased opportunities, with a focus on sport and recreation, for children, youth and adults who are blind, deafblind or have low vision.

Of particular interest, was their internationally acclaimed work with Camp Abilities; a very different approach from other camps run for people with vision loss. Both professors also founded the Institute of Movement Studies for Individuals with Visual Impairments.

When speaking in Auckland, Dr Lieberman wanted to thank the Blind Foundation and wanted to give kudos saying, “It’s so important to see the whole person, it really takes a lot of effort, energy, insight and vision to see the whole person. It seems like everyone is on the same page and that we’re all going in the same direction and it’s really exciting to be on the journey with you.”

The Blind Foundation was extremely lucky to get this time with the professors and we look forward to working with them in the future to continue to create further recreation and sporting opportunities for blind and low vision kiwis.

Puppy wrapped up in a red blanket

This week has been a week of re-adjustments. After being away for so long, it’s a bit strange being home, I’ve had to get used to where everything is again, good thing I’m so adaptable!

I still get really excited when the family comes home, I miss them after a full day of being out and about. Of course, they’re glad to see me too.

My favourite game to play at the moment is hide and seek, I’m pretty good. I usually find people fairly quickly, but it takes me a bit longer if they hide behind curtains. It’s also a really good chance to work on my recall skills. Since I’m getting so good, my puppy walker’s making the game more difficult, but I love a good challenge.

One thing I definitely haven’t forgotten, since being away, is how to get to the park. I love going through the bushwalks and sniffing all the plants. Being the patriotic pup I am, I’m particularly fond of ferns.

Something I’m less fond of is my introduction to winter, cold mornings with frosty grass makes for cold paws and a struggle to get out of bed! My puppy walker has made me a new beanbag which I absolutely love. On those really chilly nights I get wrapped up in my blanket so only my little face is left poking out. It’s just so cosy I’ve started sleeping in which my puppy walker very much appreciates.

Stay warm out there!

Image of the Blind Foundation logo

Applications are now invited for the Blind Foundation’s Pre-Employment Programme 2017!

The Programme will happen in Auckland from 27 August to 5 September 2017.

This is a comprehensive 10 day residential programme aimed at fast tracking job seekers towards work readiness.  If you are keen and motivated to work but not sure where to start, or need some guidance to build your skills and confidence for the job search, then the FastTrack programme could be for you.

The programme will include:

  • Self-awareness activities including skill identification, values and personality
  • Exploration of career options and resources
  • Exploring labour market realities and the future of work
  • Identifying suitable jobs and the tools to do them
  • Adaptive technology options in the workplace
  • Job search tools and resources
  • Communication skills and presentation
  • How and when to disclose disability information during the job search process
  • Developing a great CV and writing cover letters
  • Practicing interview techniques
  • Meeting, sharing and learning with other job seekers
  • Opportunities to meet and learn from the experiences of other people in employment who are blind or have low vision
  • Develop a plan towards employment

Applicants must meet the following criteria to be considered for the programme:

  • Over 18
  • Be registered with the Blind Foundation Employment Service
  • Be prepared to complete pre-programme assignments with the support of your EC leading up to the programme
  • Be prepared to commit for the full 10 day programme
  • Be open to new ideas and prepared to commit their time and effort to participating in the programme and their ongoing job search

To apply, please complete the application form (click this link to download the document in Word format).

Please send your completed application to sJefferies@blindfoundation.org.nz. Contact Sharon Jefferies on 07 838 7516 for more information.

Travel, accommodation and food will be provided at no charge to participants.

We look forward to receiving your application by Friday 26th May 2017.

A black labrador eating grass

I’ve discovered I have a bit of a green paw, I’m super helpful in the garden. I usually just help to keep the lawn down, but I’ve been pruning this week and giving my boarder’s garden an extreme makeover, Labrador edition. It looks great now, however I’m not sure I’ll do it again!

It’s been a week of fine-tuning my skills. I’m practising my commands every day and I’m getting increasingly better at sitting, lying down, and standing on demand. I’m also slowly getting used to the halti I was introduced to last week. It’s very important for me to be able to ignore other dogs when I’m a qualified guide dog, but it’s a challenge when I want to play with everyone. After all, I wouldn’t want them to think I’m a snob! I’m trying my best to learn, and with the help of the halti and some hard work I’ll be able to perfect my walking in no time.

I experienced my first children’s Rippa Rugby game this week, and I was very well behaved. Even with balls being dropped and lots of children running around right in front of me, I kept my cool. Although I couldn’t play, I made the most of my time in the sun and enjoyed my favourite pastime, a nap.

I have another big week this week with a talk at the local Pippins and heading back to my puppy walker, who unsurprisingly misses me a lot. How could you not miss this adorable face!

 

Our new pupstar, black Labrador Harris

Meet Harris, a gorgeous black Labrador and our newest Pupstar. Harris is the lucky pup chosen to represent all the hardworking guide dog puppies in training. He was handed this important title from Norah, who has been our wonderful Pupstar over the last year. Norah is developing nicely, and we will keep following her progress through the programme, but it is time now for Harris to step into the spotlight.

Harris came into this world late January,  one of 17 black Labrador puppies born over the summer. Harris and his siblings have been enjoying  long hot days at the breeding centre playing, socialising, and learning important skills like how to share their toys.

Puppies fighting over a soft toy
Harris enjoying one last play with his siblings, Hunter, Hamish, and Hana at the breeding centre

 

Like most puppies, Harris is bundle of energy who just loves being picked up and cuddled. We all agree he is going to be a real head turner! He has now settled into his new home with his puppy walker.

See more photos of this cutie on the Pupdate Facebook page.

Guide dog puppy Norah

Norah’s a teenager now and as part of her training she has been socialising a lot recently. She’s always proud as punch being out and about in her red coat and settles well no matter where she is – at cafes, bus stops and schools. Supermarket trips with Norah are getting much quicker, she stays on task and hardly sniffs anymore.

There have been plenty of new faces around Norah’s home and that’s just great for her development. Her puppy walkers have had international students stay and recently threw a birthday party with a whole group of kids staying over. Norah adored it, she said hello to everyone, then kept her distance until it was time to play – and how she loves to play!

Norah also visited the cinema recently and was an absolute star. She waited beautifully while her puppy walker got coffee and slept through an entire movie with the kids. She couldn’t have been better behaved.

Labrador puppy on a boat
Norah relaxing on the ferry ride to devonport
Labrador puppy in a movie theatre
Norah on her blanket getting ready for the movie to start

 

Over the summer, Norah also enjoyed a trip to Devonport on the ferry. She had a great day out with the family and wasn’t fazed by the bus, train or ferry ride.

It’s important to keep routines for a puppy though, so Norah gets a big cuddle every morning before the kids head off to school and kindy, and rides along for the pickup later on.

Well done for taking everything in your stride Norah, you’re a treat!

Little girl cuddling a guide dog puppy
Norah enoying cuddle time with her little friend

 

Brooke with her new halti on

I’ve been up to so much over the last week, I hardly know where to start!

On April 27 I attended the International Guide Dog Day walk at Cornwall Park. I don’t get tired very easily now that I’m growing up, but I’ll tell you, I needed a much longer nap to recover from all the excitement. I had great fun, and even made it into the news coverage!

Check out more photos from the day on the Pupdate Facebook page.

It was great to meet so many new people, I certainly didn’t mind everyone telling me how gorgeous I am, but I was not the only cute pup around. I saw my brother Bronson and sister Beth on the walk, who are definitely giving me a run for my money. I always get so excited when I see my siblings, I can’t help it. Of course, they’re always keen to play with me which makes family time even better.

I’ve had more new experiences this week. I’ve been introduced to a halti and I’ve also had my first trip on a ferry. I was a bit wary of the ferry to begin with, on my first trip there was quite a swell and I wasn’t used to the ground moving so much. It was strange being surrounded by water, there’s so much more than I expected. There is definitely more water than I saw at the beach! Now that I have had a few practice runs on the ferry, I’m a little more confident. Soon I’ll be sleeping through the trip, just like the car except a bit chillier.

Until next week!