Tuesday, 19 December 2017
Pupils in Year 8 were visited by Toni Forrest and her guide dog Quilla so that they could learn more about the difference that guide dogs make for blind people. This talk came before a session in which the girls will learn more about what it might be like to be visually impaired through a series of challenges, from cutting up food and pouring drinks to copying work from iPads, all while wearing blindfolds or glasses to simulate a type of visual impairment.
Toni spoke about her loss of sight just before her twenty-first birthday. She talked about the difficulties she had in the beginning and explained what it is really like to live without sight or with partial sight.
She also explained the huge difference that having a guide dog made to her life. Quilla is her fourth guide dog, and Toni talked about all four of her companions and her close bond with each of them. She described them as her “car on legs”, allowing her to get around and have independence. She was able to talk about how she navigates and tells Quilla where she wants to go. She also discussed the huge number of volunteers involved in looking after the dogs as puppies and through their training.
The Year 8 pupils were fascinated and full of questions about what it is like to be blind, and in particular how Toni manages every-day tasks.
This session was a great introduction to raise the girls’ awareness of the importance of guide dogs and how they help blind and partially sighted people, as a prelude to the girls fundraising to support the training of more dogs in future.
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