This week is White Cane Week when, from Feb. 5 to Feb. 11, the challenges facing people with vision loss are highlighted through education and public awareness.
Vern Short, director of the Kamloops White Cane Club and director with the B.C. and Yukon division of the Canadian Council of the Blind, noted that each year, 836,000 Canadians live with vision loss, with that number expected to double by 2031.
Short appeared before Kamloops council last week to talk about White Cane Week and to invite some local politicians to take part in a Friday, Feb. 10, event at the Falcon Lanes bowling alley in Valleyview. There, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., city council members and staff will battle the Kamloops Blind Bowling Team in the lanes.
Also taking part will be representatives from People In Motion, the Kamloops Brain Injury, the Kamloops Stroke Recovery Association and the Kamloops branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
The white cane symbol got its start in England in 1921 after photographer James Biggs suffered an accident, resulting in losing his vision. He then painted his walking stick white.
In 1944, White Cane Week was created in Canada through the Canadian National Institute for the Blind as Second World War veterans returned home, many with eye injuries. In 2007, the Canadian Council of the Blind assumed responsibility of White Cane Week
Short noted that White Cane Week events focus on the abilities, rather than on disabilities, of people with vision loss.
For more information on the Kamloops White Cane Club, check out its Facebook page.