Sensory Challenge

Greetings dear readers.

Well, here we are, with the final post of the Guide Dogs Week blogathon…

I hope that you have all had an enjoyable and productive Guide Dogs Week 2015, spreading the word about the work of Guide Dogs and raising vital funds in the process.

On Saturday the 10th of October Commando and I attended the Newcastle Mobility Team’s open day and Sensory Challenge event.  Regular readers may recall that the team held a similar event last Guide Dogs Week, which did rather well.  Since, as the saying goes, nothing succeeds like success the team once again embarked on another challenge event this year.  But this time the focus was on a day in the life of a person with limited or no eye sight.

This time, as before, a number of different challenges and demonstrations were set up around the office with visitors moving from one stage of the day of a person with limited or no eye sight to the next, in a linear fashion to experience the kind of challenges that can be faced, as well as having a go at dealing with them.

Last year, my main roles were to help with the provision of baked goods for the cake stall and generally float around the area answering any general questions that visitors had, as well as spending some time meeting and greeting visitors.  However this time I had a more direct role in the challenge itself.  As well as providing baked goods for the cake stall.  Which resulted in me spending quite some time baking, with an end product of several cake boxes and tins, all full of tasty items ready to be sold and enjoyed.  This year I had also been asked to demonstrate some of the technologies I use on a daily basis in terms of computer use, which has been vital to me in terms of completing my time in higher education.  So I was to demonstrate the Screen reading software I use, as well as some print to speech software.  But since the aim is to provide as full a picture as possible of how people with limited or no eye sight deal with their day to day life’s in terms of working, be that employment education or voluntary, I was part of a group demonstrating screen magnification software as well as Braille.

I am pleased to say that those who came to visit our little section seemed to find the experience very interesting.  Many commented on how technological development appears to have helped to open doors and make more things possible.  However it was agreed unanimously that the one thing technology was in no position to replace was our trusty guide dogs, who were at our sides as we demonstrated the technologies we used.

This point was effectively demonstrated by the guide dogs in training, who were, with the assistance of their Guide Dog Mobility Instructors (GDMI’s) leading people around an outdoor obstacle course, some of which I could hear through the open window beside the desk where I was set up.  The chance to be guided by a trainee guide dog was very popular last year and proved even more so this time around.

I am pleased to say that even with a high number of guide dogs both qualified and trainee in attendance Commando behaved very well, as did every other guide dog in attendance.  Although there was the odd bark from a guide dog puppy, but given that they had perhaps never seen quite so many other guide dogs in one place, I think we can forgive them that.

I am told that we had a higher number of visitors than last year, with many of them newcomers to Guide Dogs.  I am also told that the various fund raising efforts which were going on at the event, including a cake stall, tombola and merchandise stall also did very well.  It really is impressive to see how Guide Dogs employees and volunteers throw themselves into Guide Dogs Week.  The event had support from volunteers, such as myself, there were also a large number of Mobility Team employees in attendance.  All giving up their days off in order to assist with the event, helping to ensure that it ran smoothly.  I know some of the people who were there had also been at the collection in Newcastle on the previous Saturday, along with Commando and myself.  With other team members and volunteers also attending other fund raising efforts going on elsewhere, and still others who were at Saturdays open day planning to attend collection events the following day.  Although all who are involved with the organisation, employees and volunteers, believe in the work and goals of the organisation.  Guide Dogs Week seems to bring out that little extra desire in all of us to work that little harder to spread the message about Guide Dogs as far and wide as we can, and to do our up most to raise funds to ensure that the work of Guide Dogs will go on, and that those who come to the organisation for help and support will always find it, when they need it.

My thanks to everyone who has taken the time each day to read my Guide Dogs Week blogathon.  I sincerely hope that you have found the posts informative and entertaining.

My thanks as well to every single Guide Dogs employee and volunteer who has given of their time during Guide Dogs Week, and to everyone who has given to Guide Dogs during this time. Every single team member and volunteer as well as every penny truly does make a difference.

Of course, there’s no time to relax.  Now that Guide Dogs Week 2015 is over, efforts will be getting under way to make Guide Dogs Week 2016 even bigger and better, and it’ll be here before we know it…   

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