Oaklands College students were joined by a squad of four-legged companions to get a unique insight into life with visual impairment, at a recent Guide Dog Awareness Day at St Albans Campus.
The College’s Enrichment team paired up with the local arm of nationwide charity Guide Dogs UK, welcoming students and staff to enjoy a host of activities to learn about people living with sight loss and the important work guide dogs do to support them.
Organising the event was staff member Kate Vallory, an apprentice with the College working in ‘Outside The Box’ - the Enrichment team that organises events and activities for students outside their chosen area of study.
Kate, a familiar face around campus alongside her Labrador Guide Dog Becket joined the college in September last year and initiated the event to help both staff and students learn more about the challenges of life with visual impairment and educate about the positive support available.
With the support of the Herts, Beds and Essex arm of Guide Dogs UK, the College welcomed a team of Guide Dogs and puppies in training for everyone to meet and greet. Also on hand were educational activities such as blind cake testing, Braille activities and sight goggles to give first-hand experience of being visually impaired. Fundraising from the day raised over £600 for the charity, generated from the sale of Braille cupcakes, keyrings and a host of goodies from Guide Dogs UK.
Head of Student Services Gayle Brown said: “Kate is a valued member of the Enrichment team and we are incredibly proud of her effort in bringing this event to our students.
“We are thrilled with the money raised, but equally thankful for the opportunity the event has given to spark some positive discussion around sight loss and visual impairment. Everyone who came today has left more informed, aware and considerate to those with sight loss around college and the wider community – a skill students will use here and also carry through in their future endeavours.”
Community Engagement Officer for the charity Louise Jenkins said: “Our team were delighted to be part of Oaklands College Guide Dog Day which was a great success in raising awareness around sight loss. The students went away more informed of different eye conditions, and of some challenges which face our clients such as cars parking on pavements.
“Vital funds were raised which will help us continue delivering our life changing services to some of the 2 million people in the UK currently living with sight loss. Huge thanks to all involved.”