Quasia and myself went to talk about Guide Dogs at a local school this week, which has become quite a common thing in our weekly things. We always try to get the children involved, one way or another. With this school it was rather easy has they were going to be sponsoring some of the Guide Dogs puppies. One of my things at the moment is to include disabled people into everyday lives, not to be scared of disability and wherever possible help when needed. I explained about my simple act of kindness and what it had meant to me. One of the teachers said instead of returning the act, why not “pay it forward” to 3 others. It really made me think if everyone started paying it forward what a much better world we would all be living in. One of my grandfathers always used to say “education is the foundation that society is built on” and after spending a short time at the school i seems that teachers can sometimes be the stone masons of our youth and future society. I really think that investment in education and the young is never wasted more of a long term project.
So today I popped along to a meet the team event run by the Shrewsbury team of Guide Dogswww.guidedogs.org.uk. There were quite a few people there. Guide Dog owners & a few puppy walkers. It never ceases to amaze me how giving some people are with their time. I help the volunteer co-Ordinator from Guide Dogs recruiting new volunteers when the need arises. But why give your time and energy for free. For myself I get a lot back in the form of Quasia, no matter what I do I will always be in Guide Dogs debt. For others who are not visually impaired there is always the thought they are doing good and making a difference. The puppy walker give over a part of their home and then at 14 months give the puppy back, all I can say is they are all truly amazing folks. I proud to call a couple of the local puppy walker as friends & very good friends they are. Volunteers whatever they do have my respect.
So after 5 days apart Quasia is back home, but tomorrow we will be out doing a Guide Dog talk. It will be to young visually impaired and their families. The question is what do I talk about, impact of living with someone who is visually impaired. Probably not they are already living it, maybe how I became blind & it’s effects on me, sure they have a more heartfelt story. I spent the last few days trying to decide.
So today I went along to Shrewsbury to fetch Quasia back. It suddenly hit me on way there since Monday I have been out once and that was with someone to a Guide Dog collection.
So my talk tomorrow is going to be around the topic of freedom and independence for Visually Impaired and how my Guide Dog helps me achieve this. What parent would not what to know their child has the chance of both. I hope everyone has a great weekend, I get to spend a few hours with some children that are truly amazing , has well as my own children that always remind me how good life is.
So we spent last week catching up with old friends in Cornwall. Plenty of eating, drinking and walking. I have always loved first light on the beach, something which Quasia seems to enjoy too. With sight it was the changing colours as the light broke though the darkness, as the moments passed the colours blending and changing. I always thought so many people miss out on one of life’s pleasures not experiencing it. For Quasia no doubt it the freedom and crisp morning air. Without sight my perception is of quietness, the Ebb and flow of the water and animals that have awoken.
On my last night we did the usual and went to the oldest pub in town(1312). A family at the next table started talking with the usual where you from etc and I asked the gentleman what part of Essex he was from and he was amazed that after living in china for 20 years I could still make out his accent. He said most people thought he was a Australian, he comment back was lose your sight gain on hearing. His first words then was I am sorry you do not act like you are blind, perceptions are strange things but we all have them.
So I do talks for Guide Dogs when asked, usually to schools and sometimes other groups. When you speak you usually end up giving a little of yourself, little bits of how you feel and the impact of sight loss. The questions you get asked by children vary from child to child and I am sure there will be a blog somewhere of some of the questions asked.
This evening I had been asked to talk to veterans, something I do every 6 weeks or so. The talk usually goes along the line of what, when, how and why.
What happened to me
When it happened
How it happened
And why it am speaking to them.
Each group is very different, some quiet, some with lots and lots of questions, but all with one thing in common they show me the respect of listening to what I have to say along with Val a member of the Guide Dogs Team that also inparts her wisdom.
Now the difference between talking at schools and talking to the veterans is that I really feel like I connect with the veterans, their questions are quite often probing and sometimes personal. Tonight I got asked about the impact of my sight loss on my family and how it effected me not being able to see my daughters. A couple of probing questions that I will no doubt revisit from time to time, to make sure the impact of sight loss is more on me than on my daughters. It always amazes me that you go and empty your heart out to a group of people that you might never meet again about what Guide Dogs has done to help you. Now I go to talk to try and give something back but for whatever I give of myself, I always seem to get something back. Life can be strange like that sometimes. Another good night spent with good people.
Over the last few years I quire often get asked what I do with my time. I am a father to 2 girls so they take up most of my free time. I am also a Guide Dog owner ( Quasia would tell you that she owns me) that means a hours grooming every morning and two 15 minutes meal breaks and usually 2 to 3 hours walking. I volunteer for Guide Dogs which is usually a couple of hours a week and sometimes a lot more. I do a lot of cooking and baking at home which is up to a couple of hours a day. Visiting family and friends 5 hours a week. University work up to 30 hours a week.
So the question I was asked by many “what does a visually impaired person do with their time”. The answer must be a awful lot and not much sleep.