Lena’s life has been changed by her three guide dogs. Before her partnerships, she felt held back in life but now, with a guide dog by her side, she feels more confident and independent, able to go out to the shops or just spend time outside the house.
Lena’s vision impairment was caused when she was born. “The umbilical cord got wrapped around my neck, causing oxygen deficiency, which caused my Cerebral Palsy,” she explains.
“I have the rarest type, which is called Ataxic CP. This affects my muscles and joints, balance, coordination and the nerves between my brain and my eyes.
Despite being vision impaired since birth, Lena wasn’t that badly affected until she was 17 years old. Lena also has Nystagmus, block squint and astigmatism, which resulted in her being registered as severely sight impaired.
Lena recalls: “It really hit me when I was about to start college and I realised what a scary place the world outside could be. It really highlighted how my vision affected me and I didn’t quite know how I was going to manage. This is what prompted me to apply for a guide dog.”
"Meeting my guide dog for the first time was an incredible moment. I remember being so scared walking to town with my cane, and then the total contrast: walking tall and confident with my guide dog and the anticipation and excitement as to what my life will turn out to be," says Lena.
Lena remembers an emotional moment when she realised how much more independent she could be with her guide dog by her side: “I remember the simple task of running out of margarine to bake a cake and no family member being around.
“Being able to just pick up the harness and head out to my local shop to buy some, so that my family would have a cake when they got home, was a truly magical and emotional moment for me.”
It’s not just baking though, Lena’s guide dog has enabled her to find a job, meet friends and enjoy spending time out of the house. “I felt free and independent as a young person should be.” Lena explains.
Thanks to her newfound confidence, Lena is looking forward to travelling and exploring more of the UK in the future.
Thinking about donating? See how you can change someone's life