Just Say Hi

On this episode we talk about Blindness Awareness Month and White Cane Safety Day.

Christina: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Taking the Lead podcast where we empower people to be unstoppable. I'm Christina Hoeppner with my co-host Leslie Hoskins and Timothy Kuo, and today we're having a bit of a shorter episode because we're gonna chat about Blindness Awareness Month and some cool things that have been going on on campus.
But first, you guys I went to, um, I don't know if you've heard of Cedar Point. It's a place in Ohio. It's an amusement. And they do these hall weekends. Um, I went this past weekend, so I'm a little tired recording this morning, but, um, rode on some rollercoasters, but they do like a whole haunted thing, like some at certain time at night, like parts of the park becomes like haunted walkthrough areas.
Um, it was not that scary. It was actually like, I think because like I had the mindset going into it, like, I'm not gonna be scared. I. But it was cool. I like, we saw this show of yesterday that like went through, um, the [00:01:00] guys played this music that they played throughout the haunted houses. So the people who created the haunted house music for the haunted houses there.
Like there was a show that they played this music and they went through like the scary characters. It was pretty cool. So in lots of rides, Roller coasters, all that, all weekend. So my body's a little sore and I'm just a little tired. . Oh my goodness. So, you know, But yeah.
Leslie: Hey, it's almost, it sounds like it was a lot of fun.
Yeah, it was a lot of fun. Hate being scared. Like, hate being scared. I can't watch scary movies. Even things like that are suspenseful. I, that feeling of like your heart racing is just something. Do not like, which is unfortunate for my husband. He never gets to watch anything scary or even a little suspenseful.
Uh, cuz the, even the music even gets me going. It's, it's too much. Uh, but that does sound like fun. I do like roller coasters. So, Timothy, what is new with you? What's going on this month? What have you been up to?
Timothy: Not much. Uh, just got back from a big trip last [00:02:00] week. Uh, discovered the tip of my cane broke. Oh, I gotta get a new cane.
Oh, you need to carry one, spare one. It would be smart, so I gotta paint it, but, uh, everything's going great. Getting ready for the fall tonight, it's gonna get down in the thirties in Georgia. That's pretty cold. And, uh, just living life watching football. And sadly, my Braves lost this weekend, so, Okay.
They're out the playoffs, so it's a sad, sad
Christina: weekend. . Oh, darn.
Leslie: I know. Yes. Uh, good point. Always a good idea to have a spare cane tip with you. Those things do, uh, break every now and then. So not a bad idea. Yeah.
Timothy: So you learn. I guess we just learn as we go on with this journey. So that's
Leslie: exactly, I have a lot of,
Timothy: lot of stuff I need to start doing.
Yes. Doing Leslie. I need to start being a better cane user. . ,
Leslie: Listen, you had it with you, which is a good start. So learn as you go. Exactly. Yeah.
Christina: And Leslie will always keep you accountable. That's right. . [00:03:00]
Leslie: Oh, I know. I know. Um, yeah. Let's see, what did I have been working on My kids' Halloween costumes because we got a lot of Halloween events that have been happening or getting ready to happen.
And so, um, my daughter is a monster this year, which we made and that was pretty fun. We bought some fur and glued it to a, a hoodie and she picked out these googly eyes and oh my gosh, she's practicing her ra. Um, it's pretty darn cute. Aww. My son is being a monster truck. So a lot of hardboard. Yeah, a little more difficult, you know?
Yeah. I pretty much tap out with the hot glue gun as far as crafting tools go. So this involved a box cutter and a stapler, and I had to get, uh, my husband involved, but it turned out pretty. You're gonna have to show me some pictures. Yes. Um, there it was. It's still drying in the garage. still a lot of paint.
Christina: hopefully it will [00:04:00] dry by the time trick or treating
Leslie: people. I sure hope so. I sure hope so. It'll be, it's quite funny. Yes, you're crafty. That's
Timothy: cool. I, that is
Leslie: neat. Yes. I try to be, I definitely have a burn on my finger from the hot gun . Um, so, You know,
Christina: but we all made it here. We all survived our weekends, so, you know, that is great.
And you know, it's been so busy at Leader Dog with Blindness Awareness Month and we've had. Kane Quest, Leslie, which, yes. Was this the first time, um, kind of explain to me what Kane Quest was like, cuz I saw some pictures, but like, what was it? And then, you know, have we
Leslie: done this before? So, Kane Quest is really exciting.
Um, we just hosted the second Michigan Kane Quest. And what it is, is it's a competition of cane skills, basically. And it's a really great way to encourage kids throughout the state of Michigan who are blind or visually impaired to improve their cane skills to motivate them a [00:05:00] little bit. So we hosted, uh, like I said, the second one in Michigan on our campus at Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester, Michigan.
And we had 13 kids show up, which was really exciting. We had a ton of volunteers, a lot of other o and m professionals from the state who volunteered their time. And we had all these different stations. So in the morning we had, um, stations around our campus on the practice course, and there were, uh, the, some of the different skills were well block travel, so simulating walking around the block, like understanding those four.
Um, parts of a block there was getting in and out of a vehicle, right? So spatial concepts, understanding where the back door is, uh, passenger side, things like that. There was two point touch, there was upper protective technique. So a lot of cane skills. I'm using a lot of, uh, Some of the terminology we uses in the mean yes, they're basically different cane to like techniques.
So, uh, there's the rolling technique of rolling the cane [00:06:00] back and forth. There's also the tapping technique of roll or tapping it back and forth. So some of those different things going up and downstairs with a cane, all of that. So the kids got to go through all of these different. Stations and then they were scored on it.
So they got one to four points and then at the end, you know, the kids with the highest points and they get prizes. Um, we also then went downtown Rochester to our downtown training center and they did some street crossings. So just overall a really, really cool event. It was great to have kids connect with one another.
Oh my, In Michigan, they were sharing Snapchats and Instagrams and making all those connections. But another really important piece that I think is absolutely phenomenal is that there's a family aspect. So parents and are involved, and the siblings are invited and involved. The parents had a whole separate track.
So their kids are out doing this competition and they're, you know, going under blindfold and they're learning how to do human guide and they're learning some of these basic cane techniques and. They're connecting with other parents who are going through [00:07:00] the same things and resources. So they were sharing and meeting, um, and just learning and building empathy.
And then the siblings kind of did the same thing. They were going under blindfold to do some of these fun activities. We had a whole bunch of stuff for them. Um, and then they learned some human guide. So overall just really educational. And as one of the kids was walking out, it was so sweet on uh, Saturday, they were like, This is the best day ever dog.
And I was like, you know me like crying. Yeah. I'm sobbing her. Oh, that's nice. This could have been amazing
Christina: because I'm sure some of these kids probably didn't know, you know, especially. It just being kids in Michigan. Mm-hmm. . So these are kids that like, you know, maybe they live an hour, half hour from each other and they never knew it.
So that is really cool. Now, did these kids have to have cane
Leslie: skills before they came? They didn't. So it's encouraged that the kids at least. Traveled with a gain. So they were comfortable with it. But again, the whole idea here is to motivate those gain skills. So hopefully all the kids left with some [00:08:00] feedback, right?
So each station leader was giving 'em feedback and, um, kind of upskilling them a little bit of how to improve. So the idea would be they go home, they work with their their o and m specialists in their schools, and they come back. Better next year so they can, you know, ramp up their skills. But, um, it was really nice too, cuz we got to see some past campers.
So, uh, this last summer, one of the campers, she came to Kane class. So, It was fun to catch up with her. Um, and then actually one of our campers from virtual summer experience camp who, um, wasn't able to come to campus, but it felt like we knew her so well. Um, so it was good to see some of those faces. And again, they were just connecting.
I drove the bus with all the kids on it and they were singing. It felt like camp. It really did. That is awesome.
Christina: Now, uh, was there an age range
Leslie: for. Um, I believe, oh gosh, I think it was like third graders through senior year. Okay. So it was really
Christina: a wide range. Yeah. Which is awesome to be able to provide that sort of service for, you know, all age [00:09:00] ranges.
Leslie: It was cool. Yeah. So the, there were, they were broken up into three groups, scouts, explorers, and trailblazers. And based on what group they were in. The skills were a little different that we were asking them to do, cuz we're, you know, age appropriate skills. We're not gonna ask the same of our third graders that we would ask of our seniors.
Um, so actually even the youngest group didn't go downtown, uh, to do those street crossings and things like that. They stayed back on the main campus. But we gave a tour of the Canine Development Center, which people really liked. Uh, everybody was getting Leader dog swag from the gift shop. The kids all went home with some free swag.
Um, it wa honestly, it. It was a lot of work. Our team, our on and m team at Leader Dog really did great and we partnered with the Michigan Department of Education and Low Incidents Outreach. They did amazing. Um, and then also the Braille Institute really is the one who developed Kae Quest and then they kind of supply all of the material, um, and scoring things and stuff like that, so, mm-hmm.
Yeah, [00:10:00] October is Blindness Awareness Month. And did you know only 10% of people who are blind or visually impaired travel independently with a guide dog or white cane? That means that 90% of people require assistance or don't leave their home. That
Christina: is a staggering statistic. At Leader Dogs for the Blind, we focus on mobility skills such as white cane.
And guide dog training to empower people to travel independently. This training is offered completely free to clients in the US and Canada, including room, board and airfare To learn more, head to leader dog.org. So we have to mention though, when this happened, because it happened during Blindness Awareness month, but it happened in a very special day.
Leslie: Yes, oddly enough, it really worked out that we actually had Kane Quest at Michigan on White Cane Day, which is really cool because October we know is Blindness Awareness Month, which we've been talking about. But White Kane's Safety Day is October 15th, and we celebrate this every year. On [00:11:00] this day. It's a national observance in the United States and it's celebrated again October 15th.
And it's been doing, we've been celebrating this since 1964. Um, and it's really. An important date to celebrate the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired, and the important symbol of blindness and the tool of independence, which is the white cane. So it's really talking about all the people who are blind or visually impaired, the way they give back to the community, their independence, their mobility device, which is a cane.
Um, so it's a really, it was a really cool day. We were walking around downtown and it felt like we needed to tell everybody. Happy White Cane day. Happy white cane day. . Yeah, . That's super cool. And you know,
Christina: since that it blindness awareness month, white cane safety day, let's talk a little bit about like what, cuz I know we get this question all the time, like, what do I do if I see someone with a white cane?
Like do I offer assistance, do I not offer assistance or, you know, kind of the same thing comes with a guide dog. Um, as well. If you see someone with a guide dog, I guess let's get into that. I [00:12:00] mean, Timothy, I'm sure you have a lot to say.
Timothy: Well, I mean, we're still normal people. Sometimes we do need help, but, uh, if you see the person struggling, I guess you could ask, but uh, it'd be a nice thing just to ask first and uh, but usually, uh, we can figure this out on our own.
Cuz if we got the proper training, which I got with Leslie, uh, we can do this on our own. Uh, sometimes you get tough situation. Um, just, just treat us normal and we can feed off your emotions. If you are kind of timid or a little nervous around us, we can feel that. So be just, you know, Hey, good morning, whatever, what daytime of the day it is, and can I help you?
Or if they say no, then you know, thank you for your offering. But, uh, it's just, just, just treat us normal. That's the biggest, that's the biggest thing right there. Mm-hmm. just treat us normal.
Leslie: Absolutely. You said that great Timothy, always a. Ask if somebody would like assistance. Never assume somebody needs assistance, and then ask how they would prefer the [00:13:00] assistance.
So people who are traveling with a can, um, if they, you know, somebody approaches them and says, Do you want any help, they'll then be able to tell you how to help them if they do want it. Um, another thing I always tell people is like Timmy mentioned, of course, people who are blind or visually impaired are normal.
They're just like everybody else, but. One thing you typically do, like if I'm walking down the street, you know, you make eye contact with somebody, you say, Oh, good morning, or hi, whatever it is. Those still are really appropriate things to do. So even if you don't make eye contact with somebody who is walking with a cane or a guide dog just saying Good morning, that is really helpful in a couple different ways.
One, it's just kind and courteous. Two, it lets that person know that one's, that somebody's there and where they. Right. So a lot of times we see people on the streets if we're walking with somebody with a a cane and then they kind of almost hold their breath and they step to the side, like they're so terrified that somebody's gonna hit 'em with the white cane.
Well, guess what? If they said good morning, the client would then say, Probably Good morning. How are you? Yeah. And they'd know where you're [00:14:00] at to move around. Um, so Right. It is always super helpful to just say, Hi, good morning. How are. Make some sort of noise so that clients can maneuver safely around you.
Yeah, safety
Christina: is a huge thing too. I mean cuz sidewalks are not always even and all of that stuff. Um, I remember not too long ago I was walking with Duke and he loves people. So like usually when people walk by, I hold him really close cause he just.
Leslie: Duke being your dog. Just to clarify. Yes,
Christina: my dog too.
Sorry, . I don't have a new boyfriend. It's a dog. Poor Johnny
Leslie: He was not on a leash. Check. Promise. I just called him so close. I know what anybody else did anyway.
Christina: You know my dog loves the lick people. He just love. It's his thing. He loves people more than other dogs. So when I'm walking by people, I'm always holding him close and you know, I happen to be walking by someone with a white cane, but, and he was, um, standing in the sidewalk, so, you know, I [00:15:00] just said to hi to him and I told him, I said, Hey, I'm walking by with a dog just in case he tries to lick you so you're not alarmed,
Leslie: cuz I always
Christina: get nervous if he is just going to, and you know, especially I've seen, you know, Cross people with guide dogs too. At the same time, I make sure my dogs are far away from that dog because my dog is a wild child. .
Leslie: Well, I'm glad it's, it's Duke and not Johnny. Yes. That's so funny. Yeah, same thing.
It's kind of like, uh, bikers, right? Like when they're out biking, they always like on your left when they're coming around you. It's kinda like just that common courtesy of like, Hey, I'm over here. Good morning.
Christina: Yeah. If they did that all the time, it'd be great. .
Timothy: Sometimes you gotta be careful though, cuz if we're concentrating on what we're doing, if you say it loud, it might scare us or startle us.
So maybe you wanna shuffle your feet a little bit or something. You know what I'm saying? Yeah. Make some noise. Because if you make noise then we know, and you could say something. But if you just, hey you, you might scare them and you know, it could cause some confusion there. [00:16:00] So it's a, it's a toughy situation.
You just gotta be, cuz you just gotta know how to do it, I
Leslie: guess. And yeah,
Christina: try it. That's amazing. Just don't yell
Leslie: at anyone. Yeah. The other thing too is just being descriptive. So a lot of times if somebody were to ask you, you know, Oh, how do I get to Starbucks? Um, you know, you're not just gonna say, Oh, it's over there.
And point. So using more descriptive language of like, Okay, you're gonna take, you know, go two more blocks in this direction and then make a left, um, and it'll be on your right side, or things like that are really helpful when providing directions. all great
Christina: things. And I think we get asked that a lot.
Like, so, you know, how do I be, um, courteous? You know? Cause I think people overthink it sometimes. I think they're like, Oh my gosh, I have to be like super courteous and then sometimes overthinking it. Just do what you normally would do if you pass someone, you know. Um, but also think that extra step of, you know, they may not be able to fully see me and I might scare them if I'm, you know, Screening on your left.[00:17:00]
Leslie: I think Timothy nailed it with their normal people. Do what you would normally do, just say hi.
Timothy: Yeah. And, and, and if somebody asks somebody who has a cane, you know, be courteous back. Don't take offense that they asked. You know, you may not need the help, but somebody in the future might. And if you're br they may not ask the next person they run to with the cane.
So be a good ambassador for the
Leslie: blind. I think that's a really good point, Timothy. I like that. I encourage it. Right. Even if you don't help somebody else in the future might. I think that's cool. But anyway, it has been, it's an exciting month. October Blindness Awareness Month, White Kae Day, Kane Quest.
Yeah. All of the things. It's been super, super fun. Yeah.
Christina: And even though it is coming to an end, it's not the end of, you know, being aware of this. Yes. No. And learning.
Leslie: I of that. And I will say we have had a lot of like universities, cuz World Site Day was also thrown in there too. I think that was the, Yes.
13th It was this [00:18:00] month. I can tell you on my, I think it was the 13th social calendar I have pulled up. But we had like, you know, a lot of libraries, public places, universities. Um, it was the 13th. The 13th, yeah. World Site Day. So, uh, overall just a big month, but. I think people are really trying to educate themselves, and so we've had a lot of requests for presentations.
People want to learn about blindness and low vision. They want to learn about Leader Dog and the services that we provide, and they want to know what they can do to help or contribute or how to interact with somebody who's blind or visually impaired. So I think it's just a really cool time and hopefully this momentum continues and people continue to wanna learn and educate themselves.
But yeah, I think everybody wants to improve. Everybody wants to be better, and I think that's, It
Christina: is. And I think too, it's important to remember like, yeah, even though it doesn't, you know, blindness isn't targeted towards a certain type of person. It can happen to anybody at any point. And I think we've learned that from just client stories this month too.
So, great month and great things to talk about and learn. Absolutely. You'd
Timothy: be [00:19:00] amazed, you know, the people I've seen this year on all my traveling, everybody knows probably somebody who's got vision problems. So it's amazing. That's probably why people are getting more involved now. So, um, I have ran it so maybe my grandson or my uncle or whatever's got vision problems and they're using the cane or they need to, and so that's probably why everybody needs to be
Leslie: educated.
That's a really good point. That's one thing I always say kind of at the end of a presentation is I ask people to be an ambassador for Leader Dog. Share what you learned with somebody else. You never know who is impacted by blindness or vision loss or who will be, uh, impacted by it. So letting people know that there are resources available such as Leader Dog, although we're not the only one available, um, that we.
And that life doesn't end after vision loss. There's so much more to do out there. It's just a different way of doing it. So just educating others and, and sharing the resource. So I wanna thank everyone today for listening. I know it's a bit of a [00:20:00] shorter episode, but it was such an important topic.
October Blindness Awareness Month, White Kain Day, World Site Day, all of the exciting things. So thank you for listening to this episode of Taking the Lead. I'm Leslie Hoskins with host Timothy Kuo and Christina Hoeppner. We hope you enjoyed our episode, and please join us next week as we continue to dive into the world of blind.
And if you'd like to
Christina: learn more about applying to our free services at Leader Dog, you can head to leader dog.org or call us at (888) 777-5332. And don't forget, you can reach us at taking the lead@leaderdog.org with any questions or ideas. If you'd like today's podcast, make sure to hit subscribe and check us out wherever Podcast Street.

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