There are so many beautiful places to take a walk in Golden, but for some people it is not all that simple.
Two women took a walk around town on Friday July 6 to help make that point. Sue Boman from Ponoka, and Golden’s own Sharon Leslie grabbed hold of their white canes and walked the Rotary Trail along the river to promote awareness for people with impaired vision.
Boman is travelling around Canada, doing a series of short walks, in what she’s calling White Cane Connections. Her final stop in B.C. was in Golden, and Leslie decided to join her.
“The CNIB (formerly called the Canadian National Institute for the Blind) Kamloops office phoned me. They keep track of who has white canes in their district. So they phoned me and said there was going to be this walk,” said Leslie.
Born and raised in Golden, Leslie was diagnosed with her eye disease, idiopathic bilateral juxtafoveal telangiectasia, in 2004. It’s a condition that causes the blood vessels behind her retinas to break open and bleed.
“When the first blood vessel broke, it was like I was wearing sunglasses inside. So my vision basically got dark,” she said. There is no cure, so her vision has been slowly getting worse since her diagnoses. She is now legally blind.
Leslie uses two canes, an ID cane that identifies her to pedestrians and vehicles as visually impaired, and a mobility cane which is longer and thicker, and helps her feel for uneven spots on the ground.
She was very happy to be part of Boman’s awareness campaign.
“People who have a disability of some kind, don’t like to advertise it. But when you have a vision problem, the only way people know is with a white cane. So I think it’s important that people know what the canes are for, and how to help or at least stay out of the way,” she said.
“I had an experience at an airport. This lady who helps people from the gate to the airplane saw that I had a cane with me. So she just grabbed my arm, instead of letting me grab her arm, and she led me right into a doorway, and smacked my face on the doorway.”
Boman is now heading east to continue her walks. To hear more about her experiences, or learn about her mission, go to www.whitecaneconnections.blogspot.com.