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A teen’s best friend

After a successful pilot, Vision Australia is forging ahead with a program to match blind teenagers with seeing eye dogs to suit their needs.

A new program through Vision Australia will give teenagers the option of using a canine mobility aid, rather than a cane.

Seeing Eye Dogs have previously been allocated primarily to people over the age of 18, but the new program (piloted with 13 to 17 year olds in Victoria and Queensland last year) shows that there are significant advantages in pairing trained dogs with younger people too.

Teenagers are assessed on a variety of criteria to determine whether a Seeing Eye Dog is suitable for their needs. Selected participants in the program attend camps at Seeing Eye Dog Headquarters in Melbourne to experience what having a canine assistant might be like, and undertake training modules to ensure they are ready for the responsibility. 

In successful placements, Seeing Eye Dogs offer huge benefits for teenagers who live with vision impairment. Participants in the pilot program have reported improved mobility and increased confidence – not to mention the comfort of companionship.

To find out more about the program and eligibility to apply, contact Seeing Eye Dogs Australia via their website.

This story first appeared in Travel Without Limits. You can subscribe to the magazine here.

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