As a result of services provided by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to Manitobans with visual impairments, clients plan to serve the community at the next annual Night Steps event on Thu. Aug. 27 at the Forks at 6:30 pm.
“Night Steps is a national event that is being conducted at various locations across the country,” explains Wanda Mills, Associate Director Philanthropy at CNIB.
“It is a five kilometre walk under the stars to raise funds for CNIB. All of our divisions are excited about participating.”
Mills says the goal is to continue with the annual walk until there are hundreds of people walking in support of CNIB or someone they know.
“My family immigrated to Canada in 1963,” says Katie Goetz, Event Committee Member & Fundraising Volunteer who has been a client of CNIB for almost 52 years.
“We were introduced to the CNIB [after arriving in Canada]. That is when I began to get the services.”
Goetz says back home in Paraguay, she did not have the same opportunities. One of the items she was given upon her first visit to CNIB in Winnipeg was a magnifying glass for reading in school.
“I could only read larger print. Now with the magnifying glass, I could read my school books,” Goetz explains. “It was a liberating experience.”
In the past year and a half, Goetz has lost much of her vision due to her condition. She has relied on services such as, teaching her orientation and mobility using a white cane, using her I phone to read, and how to cook again safely in her kitchen.
“They have really taught me independence. I am very grateful to the CNIB for all they are doing for me,” says Goetz.
Tracy Garbutt, Independent Living Skills Specialist has been on both sides of the desk. He has been a client for over 33 years receiving independent living skills training, orientation and mobility, as well as career counselling. Using that experience, he now has a career teaching other people independence.
“It is so nice when you leave someone’s house,” Garbutt says. “They are willing to try again, and clients get back on their feet.”
Garbutt ran in various marathons, including the Boston Marathon this past April.
“You don’t have to run marathons. It is about clients challenging themselves to work themselves up to doing more, again,” explains Garbutt. “Take baby steps; you never know where you can go.”
Garbutt did exactly that, and in 2005, he ran his first marathon. That was one step at a time. His challenge to clients is to face that fear of the unknown and go out for a walk.
Mills explains many people with vision impairments face a tough reality of barriers to independence.
“Imagine trying to exercise if you are still learning to walk safely without your sight; maintaining a diet full of fresh, healthy foods if you’re just learning how to cook for yourself again, or having fun with friends if your self-confidence has been shaken to the core,” says Mills.
“With these challenges to overcome, it’s not surprising that people who are blind or partially sighted are significantly less active than their sighted peers, and may struggle with feelings of isolation and depression. That means that many Canadians with vision loss are sitting out much of life on the sidelines. But it doesn’t have to be that way.”
For more info on this event, and to find out how you can make a difference, visit www.cnibnightsteps.ca You can also drop into CNIB’s office at 1080 Portage Ave and register in person or call 204-774-5421. You can register as an individual or as a team.
Adult $50, Youth $20 and children under 12 free. Registration includes a t-shirt, BBQ and glow items.