This is an opportunity for 10 members to take on leadership skills and apply them at our Children’s Summer camp 2018 as a Young Leader, in a positive peer to peer environment.

What is required of a Young Leader?

This opportunity is open for clients who are between the ages of 17 to 22.

  • Ideally you have attended the Blind Foundation Youth SEED programme in the past or you are wanting to embark in Youth SEED in the future.
  • Enjoy working with children aged 8-14 years
  • Someone who is wanting to further their leadership skills and be given an opportunity to give back.
  • Have good adaptive daily living and orientation and mobility skills.
  • Will show empathy and enthusiasm and be available to support children as much as possible throughout camp.

When and Where?

Camp starts on Monday 15th January through to Friday 19th January 2018. However Young Leaders who are accepted will be required to arrive at camp a day early (Sunday 14th January 2018) to attend an evening and morning workshop around leadership.

Camp will be held at: Mi Camp, 100 Rawhira Road, Waitetoko, RD 2, Turangi 3382

Transport and Cost?

As a Young Leader/ Blind Foundation Volunteer we request that everyone makes their own way to and from Camp. However, if this is difficult an alternative option may be available – this will be arranged once accepted into the programme.

There is no cost for attending camp – however all transport costs to and from camp will be at your own expense.

So how do I apply?

Please complete and return Summer Camp – Young Leaders Rego 2017 Electronic version event registration Form (adults) and medication(if applicable) forms by no later than Friday 1st September 2017 to Latesha Sharp,  Recreation and Community Advisor, via e-mail at lsharp@blindfoundation.org.nz  or by post to Fale Kotuku, 20 McVilly Road, Manurewa, Auckland.

For further information, please contact Latesha on 09 281 6503

Please note:

Late registrations will not be considered. Numbers are limited and there is a selection process meaning not everyone who applies is guaranteed selection. All accepted Young Leaders will need to go through the Blind Foundation volunteer process prior to camp.

Black lab puppy sitting on the beach

I’ve mastered the car, I’ve mastered the bus; now it’s time for me to fly.

This week, I flew up in the sky to Wellington and back to visit my puppy walker’s family. They follow my blog but haven’t had the chance to meet me yet, so I thought I’d go and introduce myself.

The cabin crew on the flights were very helpful in showing me the way to go. They even let me on the plane before everyone else so that I didn’t get overwhelmed and too distracted. I made sure I took my favourite toy ‘Fluffy’ with me to chew on in case I got nervous. And don’t worry, I didn’t forget my puppy passpawt. One thing I didn’t expect was how noisy the plane would be. I couldn’t hear myself think. Once we were in the air I settled right down. Just like a car, the movement made me sleepy.

Wellington was very exciting. There were heaps of new sights and smells to explore. I even got to make some new friends at the dog park. Even on holiday I need to keep on top of my nap schedule, so I took the opportunity when I could. I definitely needed a few extra recovery naps when I got home, making my puppy walker’s job pretty easy for the rest of the week.

I can’t wait to get back on a plane. I hope my future handler likes to travel because I certainly do.

Kids Summer Camp

15 – 19 January 2018

Kids Summer Camp offers up to 20 children from all over New Zealand a chance to try new activities and make some lasting friendships. Blind Foundation staff that specialize in child development, sport and recreation activities and social development will be making sure everyone has the best time possible. Volunteers that were once children on camp themselves act as role models ensuring everything runs smoothly.

Who can attend?

Blind Foundation members aged 8 – 14 years that are independent in self-care and mobility. Children must be able to follow verbal instructions and add to social situations.

What can you expect?

A fun packed week, with plenty of opportunities to try new sports and camp activities. Some of these could include goalball, blind soccer, swimming, tandem-biking, kayaking, high ropes and waterslide.
Kids will stay in cabin style bunk rooms, have plenty of good food, evening performances and dress-ups.

How much?

$200 or 3 days ‘Carer Support’ – If using carer support, please return a signed but not dated form.

Where is it?

Mi Camp, 100 Rawhira Road, Waitetoko, RD 2, Turangi

Transport

We strongly encourage parents to pick up and drop off kids, but where possible, staff may be able to assist with transport; this will be arranged once accepted onto the programme.

How do I apply?

Please complete and return the 2018 Kids Camp registration Form (clicking the link starts a document download) by 1 October 2017 to Jo Hagele jhagele@blindfoundation.org.nz
Recreation and Community Advisor  or post to Braille House, 121 Adelaide Road, Mt Cook, Wellington.

Please note:

Registrations close 1 October, late registrations will not be considered.

Payment will be required upon acceptance of position.

Numbers are limited and there is a selection process, meaning not everyone who applies is guaranteed a place.

Golden retriever puppy with soft toys

We often get members of the public commenting that guide dogs look bored. A few others will comment that they feel sorry for the guide dogs being forced to work all the time. However that is not the case!

Play is a big part of a guide dog’s life, just as it is for any dog. It gives them an outlet for their energy, and a chance to interact with and learn from the world around them. Throughout a normal day, guide dogs will have many chances to play outside or with their handler.

During training they are taught to differentiate between when they are on duty, and when it is free play time. This is usually indicated by wearing their red coat when they are a puppy, or their harness when they are a working dog. What might look like boredom is really the dog staying calm and focused in what could be overwhelming situations.

It is vital that guide dogs want to work, and enjoying doing it. After all, we can’t force them to take responsibility for a person’s safety. From an early age, guide dog puppies are taught that working is fun. They are given “life rewards” for good behaviour, which can be anything from going for a ride in the car, going to the park, or playing. Anything really that the puppy enjoys! These motivational methods of training create well taught, happy dogs that are more than willing to work. They enjoy thinking for themselves and problem solving though situations.

Play time also helps to build strong relationships with the dog and their handler. They learn to trust and have fun with one another, becoming lifelong friends. When they get to retirement age (at 11 years) they are often adopted into their handler’s family, or go to another home. There they get to enjoy the rest of their life as the beloved family pet.

 

A group of dogs running across a field
Guide dogs enjoying a free run at the park

 

Pacific services group at the Blind Foundation

The launch of the Pacific Services brochure: Protect Your Eyesight was held on Fri 30 June at our office in Fale. Staff, including Chris Orr, Fatima Akehurst and Veta Endemann attended along with 10 Blind Foundation clients and their families.

Everyone took part in the programme, from the opening prayer and blessing of the brochures by one of our elder Tongan members Visesio, to the closing prayer by an elder Samoan member Toa. One hymn was sung by the group and the other by another member Jackie Reynolds and her two family members. One young woman, Tutuila, brought her nephew and cousins, who played lovely music and sang a couple of beautiful songs.

The Pacific Island (PI) clients were pleased and appreciated the work that went into developing the brochures. It has been translated into four Pacific Island languages (Samoan, Tongan, Niuean and Cook Island). There was also an opportunity to share their personal stories and thanked the Blind Foundation for the excellent services they received. We have helped them achieve their dreams and goals. It was a wonderful event that was enjoyed by all who attended.

Chris Orr spoke on behalf of the Blind Foundation and said he was honoured to be involved in the launch. Chris spoke highly of the work the Pacific Services team do in helping our clients and the Pacific Island community: ‘We hope that the information and messages contained in the brochures will reach many people of different ethnic groups. We hope it encourages them to look after their eyes to avoid eye and vision issues unnecessarily.’

Guide dog in training squatting to poo

This is one of those questions that seem to crop up a lot! The answer is simple; their handler does. Though if you have ever accidently trodden through dog poop on the footpath, you have probably wondered how even people with perfect vision sometimes struggle to clean up after their dog.

So, how does a blind person pick up their guide dogs poo?

It all comes down to training. Just as guide dogs are taught to guide their handler around obstacles and deal with busy environments, they are taught to toilet (pee and poop) on request.  This is done by teaching our puppies two different commands, one for peeing and one for pooping. Our guide dogs use “Busy-busy” for urinating, and “Big-busy” for pooping. While out and about, the handler can use these commands to get their working dog to relieve themselves at a convenient time and place.

Toilet training starts early, and is an important skill that is developed during the first 12 – 18 months of the puppy’s life spent at their volunteer puppy walker’s home.  Puppy walkers are taught how to get the puppy into a toileting routine, and how to use the commands to reinforce good behaviour.  It is a gradual process, but eventually the puppy is taught to only go when asked.

Note that the image used above is only a guiide. Generally our pupppies will not toilet in their red coat, as we encourage puppies to have clean walks. When the puppy indicates it needs to go we will in the early stages take the coat off and give the command, “Busy Busy or “Big Busy”.  This way the coat can come off in the appropriate place, and the dog can go to the toilet.   The puppy can associate the coat with on going positive behavior and the harness later on with the work. The end result is that the dog will go when the handler asks for them to go as part of a routine, either on lead or off lead in a safe and suitable place.  But never in a coat or harness.

Once the puppy has grown up they are matched with a handler, who is also taught the toileting etiquette. The handler learns their dog’s routine, and the stances they will take when peeing or pooping. Both male and female dogs pee using the forward leaning stance, and will round their back when pooping. The handler can figure out what the dog is up to by feeling the dogs back. This also gives them a good idea of where any poop might land so they can clean it up. Easy!

Blind Foundation guide dogs can also be taught to use a toileting harness. This enables the dog to poop in a bag which the handler can then remove, tie up and dispose of.

All guide dog users will have different requirements depending on their lifestyle and level of sight, so it is important that they and their dog feel comfortable and confident with each other. Toileting is just one way that guide dogs and handlers are taught to work as a team.

 

blind card magician Richard Turner

Richard Turner is one of the world’s greatest card magicians. His amazing sleight of hand and deft card control are astonishing, even before you find out he is completely blind. A feel-good documentary, Dealt, takes an in-depth look at Richard Turner’s complex character, and will be released on 22 July.

The documentary has received extremely positive feedback so far. It has won an Audience Award at the Independent Film Festival of Boston, and a Grand Jury Prize at DeadCENTER Film Festival. The documentary shows Richard learning a few new tricks as he comes to terms with his visual impairment.

The trailer shows Richard demonstrating his skills with a pack of cards.

The documentary will be shown three times in Auckland over the coming weeks:

Saturday, 22 July at 2pm at the Hollywood Cinema in Avondale.

Monday, 31 July at 6.15pm at the ASB Waterfront Theatre.

Tuesday, 1 August at 1.15pm at ASB Waterfront Theatre.

Watch Dealt and learn about Richard’s biggest weakness becoming his greatest strength.

Brooke with a cushion cover in her mouth

Last week went by so quickly. I’m convinced time whizzes by as you get older.

I hope you’ve been staying dry in this terrible weather. I still don’t like having wet paws, and my puppy walker definitely isn’t a fan of muddy paw prints around the house, so we’re being strategic with our time outside. There are lots of games inside to keep me occupied and I still go for walks so I don’t mind at all.

My new favourite toy this week is a cushion cover. I was especially fond of it so my puppy walker made it puppy proof and gave it to me. It’s brown and fluffy and I never try to chew through it, unlike my other toys. It’s my version of a teddy bear. I always chew it before bedtime, sometimes I fall asleep on it. I’m allowed ‘Fluffy’ around the house and even at work, but I’m yet to sneak it out on a walk with me, I wonder if anyone would notice?

On Wednesday I was lucky enough to join the Auckland Walking Group. I absolutely loved it. It’s important to keep fit, and I definitely didn’t complain about discovering a new route. I love investigating new smells and surroundings, especially out on the grass and trees.

My night walking is getting much better too. I used to be scared of wheelie bins and didn’t like walking in the shadows, but now I’m much more confident. Because my puppy walker is vision impaired and I’m jet black, I’ve got a special glow-in-the-dark ribbon that gets attached to my collar so she can see exactly what I’m doing if it gets too dark. I’m definitely a leader of fashion.

Stay dry and warm and I’ll update you next week.

a group of people wearing blindfolds

World Sight Day is on 12 October 2017 and there is a global Make Vision Count photograph competition to mark the occasion. Both professional and amateur photographers around the world are encouraged to take part. Send your pictures with the theme #MakeVisionCount to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) by 12 October. The competition aims to highlight eye health successes and also document unmet need. IAPB promotes universal eye health through advocacy, knowledge and partnerships.

Winners will be announced on 16 October 2017 and contacted by mail following the announcement.

The professional photographer winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000 USD. The winning amateur photographer will receive a Canon 1200 D DSLR camera.

For more information, visit the #MakeVisionCount photography competition page.

Image shows the New Zealand Blind Rugby squad posing with a Blind Foundation banner.

A precedent was set last week as NZ battled the UK’s Blind Lions in the first ever international Blind Rugby test series.

Supporters from all around came to witness the three games and to cheer on our boys in black. The game kicked off in typical NZ fashion with a well performed Kapo E Au haka.

Image shows the New Zealand Blind Rugby team performing the 'Kapo e Au' haka.
The New Zealand Blind Rugby team performing the ‘Kapo e Au’ haka ahead of the first test match against the Blind Lions.

Dan Shepherd, the head of Blindsport NZ and blind rugby prop, made it clear that the team was going to put up a fight, and had a responsibility to do the black jersey proud.

It was a tough game for the newly formed NZ team, the Blind Lions being experienced players. With help from the boys, Deacan Dunn pushed through and scored New Zealand’s first international test try which was then converted by his brother Marquele McCaskill.

The NZ team played hard, but the test victory went to the visiting team.

The final scores were:

Game one: 35-0 to the Lions.

Game two: 17-7 to the Lions.

Game three: 28-5 to the Lions.

To keep up with the latest on matches and the team, like Blind Rugby NZ on Facebook or email Dan Shepherd.