Top News

White Cane Week celebrated with seventh annual bowling event

Sandra Poirier, centre, bowls as participants of the annual bowling event to mark White Cane Week watch.
Sandra Poirier, centre, bowls as participants of the annual bowling event to mark White Cane Week watch. - Millicent McKay

White Cane Week runs from Feb. 4 to 10 serving to focus public attention on blindness and visual impairment

SUMMERSIDE – Sandra Poirier is just like everyone else, with one exception.

“I’m a normal person, I just can’t see as well as others,” said the 74-year-old partially sighted Summerside resident.

Poirier was 37-years-old when she began to lose her sight.

“I have a condition called retinitis pigmentosa. It has caused night blindness, tunnel vision and loss of my sight from the front of my eye.”

Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic disorder that involves the breakdown and loss of cells in the retina – the light sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye.

Currently Poirier can barely see anything out of her right eye.

“Up until 2010, I was doing OK. Now it takes me a while to get around. I have to depend on people. I can’t go anywhere by myself.”

But Poirier is proud of the freedom she has in her apartment.

“I thought I would have to sit in the corner for the rest of my life and never do anything again. But I decided to keep going and here I am.

“One day, I was going to the laundry room. To get there I have to cross the hall and then go down another hallway. I was in the room when a group of ladies were in there and they told me they don’t know how I do it. They’ve been really helpful to me.”

Poirier also sits on the board of the P.E.I. chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind. Through the organization she organizes and participates in events like bowling with the local Lions Club to mark White Cane Week.

“White Cane Week runs from Feb. 4 to 10. This year marks seventh year of White Cane Week on P.E.I.”

The objective of the week is educational, serving to focus public attention on blindness and visual impairment.

Tanya Matheson, 44, attended the bowling event with her mom Trudy.

“Tanya was hit by a truck when she was eight. It left her with a brain injury and partial sight. She can see from the centre of her right eye and out to the side, and then from the centre of her left eye in toward her nose,” Trudy explained.

Doctors told Trudy that her daughter wouldn’t be able to do most things but over the years her daughter has adapted and taught herself new things.

“It’s nice to see her be able to do things. I was told she would never live and if she did she would never do anything. But she does her best.”

Tanya added quickly, “I like to run the dog everyday in the backyard. I feel smart as a whip.”

John Powers was also left partially sighted after being hit by a car in 1984 when he was 15-years-old.

Walking to town everyday allows him to feel independent.

“It’s great. I go to the coffee shop everyday and to the horse races.”

He added, “All I can say, appreciate what you’ve got. Some people are so lucky.”

The history of the white Cane

The use of the white canes used by blind and partially sighted people originated in the 1920s after an English photographer was blinded in an accident.

Upon release from the hospital, he painted his cane white so it could be easily seen at night. Bigg’s idea quickly became an internationally accepted symbol.

White Cane Week originated in 1964 when the Canadian Council of the Blind held the first event in Canada and continues to be held every year. More than 80 chapters of the CCB across the country give the campaign a local spin and provide support to the national campaign.

The event has evolved to reflect the change instances of people who are blind and partially sighted with a network of special events, hands-on demonstrations, open houses and tours. Events are aimed to emphasize the equal capabilities and talents of people who are blind and visually impaired.

For more information go to www.CCBNational.net.

millicent.mckay@journalpioneer.com

Recent Stories