After months of walking, Sue Boman returned to Ponoka for a planned break in the White Cane Walks she has conducted since March 23.
Legally blind, Boman took some time Aug. 18 at St. Mary’s Anglican Church to tell friends some of her experiences since undertaking the six-month journey.
The purpose of her trip has been to educate the public on what it means for someone to navigate a community with a white cane.
“If we could bring to public attention those sorts of things that could make life easier,” she stated.
Travelling across Canada to conduct short walks in various communities, Boman hopes to meet people with similar challenges. Other people have joined her who use white canes, but also those with guide dogs as well have joined.
“It’s not about the distance at all, it’s about the people we’ve met,” she stated.
The trip is not an easy one. “Days go from one to the next and it can be a bit tiring.”
She gets up, has breakfast, conducts a walk and then moves on to the next location. Sometimes no one is there to join in, which makes her wonder why she does it, but then taking a walk at the next town she will receive support from others.
She feels it is the stories and people she comes across that make the trip worthwhile.
The youngest person she walked with is a four-year-old boy who was born without eyeballs, and the oldest person she walked with was a 99-year-old woman in Hanna.
“One of our best surprises was Coun. John Jacob’s mother in Kingston,” she said.
After completing the day of walking, Boman writes on her blog and confirms her entry with JAWS (Job Access With Speech). And then she continues on to the next phase of her journey.
Issues seem different depending on where she travels.
“In the small centres, the smaller towns, I’ve come across a person who is the only one in that town who uses a white cane. In the larger centres it’s more about access issues,” said Boman.
The trip has been funded entirely from personal funds, which both Boman and her husband, Lyle, decided on.
“It is an expensive proposition…but we felt it was worthwhile.”
Another memorable experience was the walk she conducted in Ponoka as she was unsure how many people would attend.
“It was very rewarding to walk in Ponoka back in May because there were so many friends that came out to support,” she explained.
A company called Humanware has also lent Boman a Trekker Breeze handheld GPS unit. Designed for people who are blind or partially sighted, it is a talking GPS unit that tells her location.
It is also a pedometer, which is useful to know how many kilometres she was walked.
She gives credit to her husband for his support along the way. “He’s been a huge support and I think I couldn’t have done this without him.”
The walks continue this week in Quebec and to catch up on Boman’s stories see her blog at http://www.whitecaneconnections.blogspot.ca/.