Events planned for next week in recognition of White Cane Week

White Cane Week kicks off

A few Kamloops councillors will be going head-to-head in a five-pin bowling challenge against a blind bowling team in recognition of White Cane Week.

According to Vern Short, Kamloops White Cane Club director and public relations chair for the Canadian Council of the Blind B.C.-Yukon, White Cane Week will be celebrated across Canada from Feb. 5 to Feb. 11.

He said White Cane Week has been recognized since the 1940s, when war veterans were returning home with eye injuries.

Short said the week is an opportunity for those in the community who live with vision loss to promote education and public awareness.

“The whole message is, people living with vision loss face these challenges on a daily basis,” he said, adding he lives with a condition called macular degeneration.

"Every day, when I get up every morning, my vision doesn't improve just because I get up. I live with vision loss. Every year, 836,000 Canadians live with vision loss, and by 2031, that number is expected to double.”

Short said there are about 800 to 900 Kamloops residents and close to 8,000 residents in the Southern Interior who are visually impaired or with lost vision — meaning corrective lenses don’t provide 20/20 vision.

He said members of the public can be aware of those with vision impairments who might need some help.

“If you see someone with a white cane, it’s courtesy to give them that space and understand that they need that space. If they seem confused, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they need help,” Short said.

Short said there are a couple of events planned for White Cane Week in Kamloops, with the bowling challenge on Feb. 10 at Falcon Lanes in Valleyview.

The bowling event will be held from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., and will include community agencies like People in Motion and a local stroke recovery group. Members of the public are welcome to attend and participate.

During Tuesday’s council meeting, Short issued the bowling challenge to mayor and councillors. He noted one of the blind bowling team members in the council gallery had scored a turkey — getting three strikes in a row.

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson thanked Short for his presentation, adding some council members had already taken him up on his offer to participate in the challenge.

“I believe that some of us are you taking up with that — sounds like we're getting a little bit sharked here though, sounds like you’ve got a lot of practice,” Hamer-Jackson said.

Coun. Bill Sarai said he had signed up to participate in the event.

“Looking forward to coming and getting some lessons from your group,” Sarai said.

Aside from the bowling event, Short said on Feb. 11, members of the club will have an information table set up at Northills Shopping Centre from 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and he encouraged the public to stop by.

“It’s for the benefit of the public to have this awareness,” he said. "Everybody lives such a fast paced life. You’ve got one pair of eyes.”

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