Visionary approach challenges sight-impaired students

Abseiling, rock climbing and kayaking for the uninitiated can be tricky at the best of times - now try doing it with minimal or no sight.

The recent State Vision Camp held at the Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation, Narrabeen, offered all year 3-12 students with vision support in NSW public schools the chance to challenge themselves with outdoor activities.

Nearly 80 students and 33 vision support teachers attended the September camp.

Students came from as far away as Wagga Wagga, Broken Hill, Dubbo, Bathurst, Orange, Tamworth, Kingscliff and Sydney metro. 

Representatives from Goalball NSW (a Paralympic sport for vision impaired) also attended the camp for a day to run sessions across all age groups.

 "The main aims of the camp are for students to challenge themselves in activities such as high ropes, abseiling, rock climbing, and kayaking at their own pace," said Alison Stephen, camp organiser and assistant principal - vision, Denistone East Public School.

"It's also a great opportunity for students to socialise with other students who have a vision impairment.

"Many [of the camp participants] are the only student at their school with vision impairment, and some country students have never met another student with vision impairment."

The definition of vision impairment ranges from an acuity level of 6/24 - what a sighted person can see 24 metres away, the person with vision impairment needs to be six metres away to see - to complete blindness.

All students said they enjoyed the camp, and some commented it was "awesome" and they had "made the best friends they had ever had".

State Vision Camp has been running for about 25 years.

Photo:  Enjoying the State Vision Camp ... Amy (West Pymble PS), Matthew (West Pymble PS), James (Yr 3 Hornsby Heights PS), and Jacob (Hillside PS). Photo supplied by Alison Stephen.

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