Come and see what Guide Dogs Queensland is all about
I got up close and personal with the blind last year for the first time. My amazing mother-in-law established a charity in 2006 to help the underprivileged people, many of whom are blind or vision impaired, in Vietnam. Last year, her family supported two blind students to come to Australia for three months and during their stay they were brought to Guide Dogs Queensland (GDQ), where they underwent some training. They learned orientation and mobility skills, cane training and computer skills. As I saw them once or twice a week, I was able to see their progress. It was so wonderful to see them go from holding onto someone and being guided to go to their rooms, the bathroom, the car, to them moving around by themselves efficiently and safely with or without a cane. Their computer skills improved immensely, they walked around the house without a cane, and they knew how to go through people traffic in public. By the end of their trip, they were walking around the Queen Street Mall comfortably just like everyone else. It was remarkable how much GDQ has helped them.
In the same way, GDQ try to help Queenslanders living with vision impairment. Most people probably assume that GDQ focus on training guide dogs for the blind, however, this is not the case. GDQ was established in 1960 and aims to equip, empower and educate people of all ages who are blind or vision impaired by means of orientation and mobility services. Some of these include guide dog training and placement, white cane training, electronic travel aid training and community and professional education workshops. QDG depend on individuals, puppy sponsors, corporate support as well as people who leave a bequest in their will in order to offer their services free of charge. Their goal is to help people living with vision loss to live full and independent lives.
If you're curious about GDQ and would like to know more, or if you've made a donation but wondered where your money went, or if you've help raised a puppy and wanted to know what happened to them after you've handed them back, then come to their annual open day on Sunday 7 July from 10am to 3pm. This is your chance to go behind the scenes and see what GDQ is all about.
You will experience and understand one of the services offered by GDQ, orientation and mobility, which is very important to the blind and vision impaired. It is quite fascinating actually. In addition, there will be white cane demonstrations, guide dog demonstrations and kennel tours. Meet the next generations of working guide dogs in training as well as canines from other services such as the Police and Royal Australian Air Force.
On this day, you'll understand the life of a guide dog from when they start their guide dog training to when they meet their new handler who is blind. You'll learn about the role of a guide dog, witness various remarkable demonstrations and understand the significant role these guide dogs play in a blind person's life. You're guaranteed to be blown away by what these guide dogs can do. For us humans, life is not about all work and no play. Well, the same applies for the canines! So when you've seen the brilliant canine demonstrations, don't forget to visit the pups at their playgrounds.
Bring your kids along because there will be lots of fun activities including rides, information stalls, prizes and competitions. With show bags, guide dogs merchandise, BBQs, Devonshire Tea, snacks and drinks, you're guaranteed to have plenty of fun and won't go home hungry. You can also find out about puppy raising and careers with GDQ.
If you would like to get involved, then this is your chance. GDQ are looking for puppy raisers in Southeast Queensland. They need volunteers to care for their puppies from about 10 weeks of age until they are 12 months of age, which is when they are old enough to start guide dog training. There are 50 puppies needing homes at the moment so if you're a dog lover, consider being a puppy raiser because it is a very rewarding experience. For more information about this very satisfying experience, please see their website.
Admission is a gold coin or $5 to park on site. Parking is limited so catching the train to Bald Hills Station and then the shuttle bus is recommended. Please leave your furry friends at home. For more information, go to their website.