Monday marked the beginning of “White Cane Week,” a time to raise public awareness about the challenges facing people with vision loss.
Many blind people never leave their homes, but one group in Campbell River is trying to change that one curler at a time.
Bruce Laurie coaches the Campbell River blind curling team, the only one on Vancouver Island and one of only four in B.C.
He and a few members of his team were in Parksville Monday, gauging the interest of local blind curlers.
“It’s a lot of fun, and unfortunately, the blind people don’t get a chance to do a lot of activities because it just isn’t possible,” said Laurie.
Laurie is looking for blind curlers and coaches from across the Island to help establish blind curling outings or even teams.
Parksville’s Colin O’Brien is blind and tried curling for the first time.
“It is interesting, and it seems like something I might want to pursue and continue. I’ll try it again and see if I can get better,” he said.
“They were very patient, and it’s wonderful. I’m really, really enjoying it today,” added Ruth Bieber.
The Parksville Curling Club supports the drive to find more blind curling enthusiasts.
“It’s something to do in the winter and gets them out of the house and into the community and we’re going to open up a sheet for them here at the club if they want it,” said club president Tony Reinsch.
There are over 7,000 visually impaired people on the Island, and 40 per cent of them never leave their homes.
The people taking part on Monday say curling is a great way to change that.
“It’s very educational and exciting to be around other people with sight loss and to get out of the house,” said Jeremy Steenberg, who has five per cent sight in one eye. “It’s my second year on the Campbell River team, and I’m really enjoying it.”
Laurie is dedicated to helping blind people on the Island get into curling.
“If you’re at all able enough to get out, we will help you to try out this sport,” he said.
You can reach him at the Campbell River Curling Club.