White canes a welcome gift for sight-impaired children

Victoria White Cane Society provides canes to school-aged children, an expense not covered by health plans

CNIB orientation and mobility specialist Mary Kay Kennedy

Ann Jackson tears up as she recalls meeting dozens of partially sighted and blind children for the first time at the CNIB holiday celebration last December.

“It made me very happy that I was there and our club was able to help,” she said.

Since she started losing her vision 12 years ago, Jackson has become an aggressive advocate for the blind as president of the Victoria White Cane Society, a non-profit support group for people dealing with vision impairment.

The society, which celebrates its 66th anniversary this month, recently partnered with the CNIB’s Victoria office to provide canes to school-aged children, an expense not covered by provincial health plans.

“Most of the children that we see have some vision, but many of the children need assistance,” said Mary Kay Kennedy, CNIB orientation and mobility specialist.

One of the key mobility tools for children is a cane, Kennedy said, used by children as young as two-and-a-half.

“A cane is designed to grow with your size. So, as the children get taller, the cane gets taller,” she said.

Vision can also change as a child gets older, making it necessary to purchase different types of mobility canes along the way.

Kennedy is one of three specialists who provides assessment and mobility services to the Island’s estimated 75 partially sighted and blind students.

“That number actually might be greater than that, those are the children we know of at CNIB in the school system,” she said.

Jackson said her cane serves as a safety belt, helping her navigate her daily activities with more confidence.

“It’s saved my life many times,” she said. “It’s not just for the children, it’s for anybody who is blind or partially sighted.”

The Victoria White Cane Society will celebrate it’s 66th birthday at the CNIB on Wednesday (Sept. 12), providing cake and musical entertainment for its roughly 50 members.

For more information on the society, call 250-385-3707. To donate to the CNIB, visit cnib.ca.



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