Walk along the prom wearing a blindfold



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Blind-folded people will walk along Douglas Promenade next month to find out what it’s like to have no sight.

‘Walk My Way’ is part of an awareness-raising campaign for the Manx Blind Welfare Society.

While some volunteers will be blindfolded, others will try to guide them. They’ll be assisted by people from the MBWS.

It will Sunday, September 21, as part of Vision Awareness Week from War Memorial on Harris Promenade to opposite the Empress Hotel on Central Promenade and back.

Guided walking is the method used by sighted people to escort blind and visually-impaired people.

MBWS chief executive Ian Cooil said: ‘We have delivered guided walking training to businesses, charities and other organisations and it has proved very successful in preparing sighted people to confidently and safely escort visually impaired people.

‘As part of Vision Awareness Week, which seeks to raise public awareness of the challenges faced by blind and visually impaired people living in the Isle of Man, we would like to invite everyone to join Walk My Way.

‘You can enter on your own or with a team and the intention is to pair entrants up, with one person blindfolded, for the walk.

‘We hope it will demonstrate to everyone that takes part why it is so important to understand how to safely and confidently escort a visually impaired person, and will encourage more organisations to sign up for our free training.

‘If anyone would like to be sponsored for the event and raise funds for the vital work we do with more than 600 people in the island with serious sight loss, that would be very welcome.’

The first Vision Awareness Week, from September 15 to 21, aims to explain what people can do to embrace visual impairment in society, in the workplace and in all walks of life, and gain a greater understanding of how those with a visual impairment live.

There will be a series of events outlining the simple steps we can all take to enhance the daily experience of blind and visually impaired people by anticipating and meeting their needs, such as cutting overhanging vegetation and not parking on pavements, and calling for significant improvements in access to public services for blind and visually impaired people.

During the week, MBWS will also be encouraging people to think about their own eye health, the possible impact their lifestyle could have on their future vision and the importance of regular eye checks.

The week will be launched at the Manx Museum on September 15, when Steve Cunningham, an inspirational speaker who lost his sight as a child but went on to set three World Records and play sport for his country, will address the audience.

Tickets for the event, supported by Specsavers, are available now priced £10.

There will also be a series of roadshows around the island throughout the week.

The roadshow will be from 10am to 3pm at Castletown Civic Hall on September 16, Corrin Hall, Peel, on September 17, Ramsey Town Hall on September 18 and Promenade Church, Douglas, on September 19.

Entry for Walk My Way is free and more details are available by calling 674727 or emailing enquiries@mbws.org.im.

Conister Bank has already shown its support by sponsoring the event and confirming members of staff will join in.

Conister Bank managing director Juan Kelly said: ‘Vision Awareness Week is an important opportunity to explain to the community the issues faced by blind and visually impaired people in the Isle of Man and what we can do, as a society, to assist them.

‘Conister is delighted to be giving its support to Manx Blind Welfare Society and sponsoring Walk My Way, which I hope the whole community gets behind. We will have members of staff taking part, and I’d like to encourage everyone to get involved.’

Mr Cooil added: ‘I’d like to thank Conister Bank on behalf of the society for its support of this event. This sponsorship is vital to the success of Walk My Way and a clear commitment by Conister to help us raise awareness of the needs of the visually impaired in the island.’

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