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CNIB Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador Newsletter Nov. 2018

Main Content

In this Issue:

• Editor’s Corner
• Foundation Program's Calendar
• A Holiday Party Invitation
• The Luca Patuelli Project
• Blind Ice Hockey Comes to NL
• CNIB clients and the community at large came together
• Our New Apprenticeship Program
• Eye Safety Seminars
• Client Story: A Day in the Life of Lee Snook
• Client Story: A Conversation with Lori Shea
• Self-Advocacy Champions
• Classified Section
• Contact Us

Editor’s Corner
By Kelly Picco and Kim Hart

We hope you enjoy the articles in this edition of the CNIB-NL Newsletter, now available through email and online at

If you have a story idea, comment, opinion you would like to share with our CNIB NL Newsletter team, or you have an email address you would like to
add to our mailing list, please contact Kelly Picco at (709) 754-1180Image removed. ext 5813 or email at

We are always updating our website, and our social media sites, so please 'like' us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter (@CNIB.

Foundation Program's Calendar and Special Events
By Kim Hart

CNIB Socials - Our CNIB Socials usually take place on the fourth Sunday of each month, from 2:00-4:00, at CNIB on The Boulevard. Clients come together to participate in a variety of activities such as craft nights, bingo games and holiday parties.
Upcoming Dates: Dec 6, Jan 27, Feb 24

Yoga with Helena Butler - Thursday, December 6 join us at CNIB on the Boulevard, we have a special treat for yoga lovers. Join Yoga Instructor Helena Butler from 6:30 - 7:30 P.M. as she guides you through yoga poses. Keep in mind there are limited yoga mats available so book now!

Audio Book Club - Our Audio Book Club is a partnership with the Mt. Pearl Library. Clients read/listen to an agreed upon book and then come together to discuss it. This group takes place on the second Thursday of each month at the Mt. Pearl Library, from 7:00 - 8:00pm.
Upcoming Dates: Dec 13, Jan 10, Feb 14

Walking Club – Our Walking Club, on the third Tuesday of each month from 6:30 – 7:30, provides an opportunity for clients to get out for a walk together and then stop for a coffee/chat afterwards. It has been moved in the Village Mall for the winter.
Upcoming Dates: Dec 18, Jan 15, Feb 19

Tech Time Tuesdays – Tech Time is an interactive, information sharing technology group which aims to provide clients with knowledge and experience on the latest gadgets and apps. There is also time at the end of each session for clients to ask questions about the technology being used. This group runs the
second Tuesday of each month from 2:00 - 3:30 (except for February and May, when it takes place from 7:00 – 8:30).
Upcoming Dates: Dec 11, Jan 8, Feb 12

Coffee Time – On the third Tuesday of each month, from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m., drop by and have a relaxing cup of coffee with the Vision Loss Rehabilitation and CNIB Foundation staff. This is an informal time to chat with our staff and other clients over a cup of coffee.
Upcoming Dates: Dec 20, Jan 17, Feb21

Heavyweights - Heavyweights Gym is providing clients with an opportunity to train in a group with other CNIB clients each Saturday from 10:15 – 11:00. There is a gym fee associated with this group. Coach Darren will guide you through workouts that suit your interests.

*For a full list of events and more information on our groups, please visit us at, visit our Facebook page or call Kelly at 754-1180 ext. 5813.

Deck the holidays with friends!

Please join us for our annual Holiday Party!
On Wednesday, December 12 we will be hosting a client/ volunteer holiday party, from 5:30 – 7:30, here at CNIB on The Boulevard! We will be having a chili lunch (with garlic toast) followed by Christmas Cake.
Please RSVP to Kelly at 709-754-1180Image removed. ext . 5813 or email

CNIB supports the Luca Patuelli Project
By Kim Hart and Cheryl Starks

Luca "Lazylegz" Patuelli is one of Canada’s foremost hip-hop dance artists and inspirational speakers. Although, Luca was born with Arthrogryposis, a neuromuscular disorder affecting the bones and joints of body, he is still able to dance – but his way! This past October, Luca did a cross-provincial tour of
Newfoundland where he visited various communities bringing his message of "No Excuses, No Limits!"

CNIB-NL was pleased to be a community partner with Eastern Health, the Arts and Culture Centre, Easter Seals and Neighbourhood Dance Works to help organize and bring this event to our clients across the province.

Blind Ice Hockey comes to St John's
By Kim Hart
In October, 20 young clients attended a Canadian Blind Ice Hockey Workshop – an ice hockey/skating and goal ball development workshop. One of the participating parents has set up a local league for youth who are
interested in continuing to play hockey. His Newfoundland players are now competing nationally and internationally. If you would like any more information about this program, please contact Kim Hart at CNIB.

CNIB's introduces its new apprenticeship program
by Vanessa Russell, Program Manager, Apprenticeship Program

Trained, certified staff are an integral part of providing quality care to our clients. Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada strives to provide our staff the knowledge and lived experience to provide accessible, inclusive and quality rehabilitative services to our clients.

The Apprenticeship Program (AP) has been developed as both a short and long term solution to staffing needs across Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada (VLRC). The program has been designed to focus on the immediate VLRC work shortage needs and also to provide a solution to the issue of how VLRC can
ensure an on-going steady flow of qualified, certified rehabilitation specialists.

We are continuing to build partnerships with external partners and organizations to provide education in Orientation and Mobility; Low Vision Therapy and Independent Living. Upon completion of both the external and internal training staff will be eligible to write the certification exam with ACVREP – the Academy of
Certification for Vision Rehabilitation Educators and Professionals for the corresponding discipline. This ensures staff are in possession of consistent credentials to deliver services in alignment with internationally recognized best practices.

Phone It Forward – Unleashing the Power of Technology!
By Debbie Ryan

The newest program of the CNIB Foundation is 'Phone It Forward'. This gives Newfoundlanders and Labradorians a unique opportunity to donate their old smartphones, receive a tax receipt for fair market value, and empower people who are blind in the process.

Donations are simple to make: a person or company registers their old smartphone(s) online at, picks up a prepaid envelope, sends in their donation(s), and receives a tax receipt from the CNIB Foundation.

Through a partnership with Fixt Wireless Repair, donated smartphones are wiped to the highest data security standards, loaded with accessible apps and provided to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with sight loss who need them, along with technical training, discounted maintenance and data plan support.

Smartphones combine several accessibility tools in one, including:
▪ Accessible phone
▪ DAISY book reader
▪ Talking product identifier
▪ Talking calculator
▪ Colour identifier
▪ Talking braille watch
▪ Handheld magnifier
▪ Talking GPS
▪ Bank note reader
▪ Audio product labeler

The process is simple!

Donate today. Call 1-833-554-5020! to register your phone and receive a tax receipt quote for your smartphone donation.

Pick up a prepaid 'Phone It Forward' donation envelope from one of our sponsors at a wide variety of locations across Canada.

Pack your smartphone donation and the required, signed documents generated in the registration process, in the envelope and drop in any Canada Post mailbox.

When your device is received and evaluated to confirm it matches the information provided to us, we will send out your tax receipt.

To learn more about Phone it Forward, visit  or call 1-833-554-5020Image removed.

Eye Safety Workshops
By Kayla Butt

On November 7th VLR -NL Low Vision Specialist, Kayla Butt, was given the opportunity to present the Eye Safety Seminar at the WorkplaceNL Safety Symposium at the Eagles Perch in Humber Valley Resort where there were 150 participants and employees in attendance.

The seminar included the standard eye safety workshop that includes a power point presentation, two riveting videos which give an account of real life eye injuries that changed the lives of two very different individuals, pictures of common eye injuries, as well as ways to protect our eyes from injury and, in turn,
maintain healthy vision for life.

An increasing amount of positive feedback has been received from those in attendance and some employers have reached out to Kayla, requesting that this program be offered to their employees. Some of the employers in attendance included Western Health, NL English School District, and Allen's Fisheries.

CNIB and VLR look forward to fostering many more opportunities to share this program with more employers and employees in Western Newfoundland.

A Day in the Life of Lee Snook
By Lee Snook

Diabetes became my new reality on my fourth birthday and life, as I knew it, changed completely from that moment on. Each day since has revolved around a disciplined regimen of some form of activity, regular healthy meals and snacks, several checks of my blood sugar level and two insulin injections.

I first noticed a black spot in my vision that wouldn’t go away. My ophthalmologist said that I had advanced diabetic retinopathy and the prognosis meant that I couldn’t return to my job and the life I had grown accustomed to in Alberta. Instead, I was subjected to numerous laser treatments which were very painful.

These procedures continued until it was determined they weren’t working. My only option was to undergo actual surgery which also wasn’t successful, due to the progression of my condition.

Adjusting to one eye with sight and the other in total darkness was tough enough, but then I received the news that the vision in my other eye had declined to the point that surgery was also required. After being discharged from the hospital after surgery, the pressure in my eye built up so much that I could barely talk
without screaming in pain. This sent me back to the hospital for another emergency surgery. When I woke up and the bandages were removed, I found out that I was totally blind. Standing in front of me in my darkness, my doctor and mother anxiously waited for what I had to say. I reluctantly told them that I couldn’t see a thing.

My total darkness went on for months; months that felt like years, now that I think back on it, then a little speck of light the size of a needle point returned in one eye and gave me hope. In time, I regained some vision in that eye and had another surgery to try and improve it. A few years have passed and I have
adjusted well to the limited sight of that one eye. So well in fact that a lot of people wouldn’t even notice my visual impairment unless I’m in an unfamiliar place, and they paid close attention.

I want to share with you, some of the most memorable experiences I have had on my journey…
- Saying “excuse me,” to mannequins and mirrors.
- Whenever my niece asks me to read a story, I make it up by looking at the pictures because the words are too small to read.
- I once bumped into a guy at Walmart and he said, “Sorry about that, you got me on my blind side”. I replied, “Hey that’s my line!” Turns out we were both blind in the opposite eyes and we walked into each other.
- Petting dogs on the wrong end. (Just recently, one of my dogs developed diabetes and has also lost her sight, so we are like a team now!)
- Walking into walls, posts, trees and signs, especially wet floor signs, makes a big noise and commotion and seems to have become one of my specialties. You could almost say it’s my superpower LOL.
- A few of my friends have black doors and low lighting in their homes so it gets quite a few laughs when they hear a big bang, knowing that I thought the door was open and I walk, with full force, into it.

I have experienced life with full sight, total blindness (complete blackness) and with all the different levels of sight in between. Life is both hard and beautiful in all those scenarios. The problems might differ, but I managed to find happiness in different ways throughout each chapter of life. I thank God, doctors, family,
friends, and everyone else who stood by me through all of this and encouraged me to keep going. Life is still very hard with only limited sight in just one eye, but I try my best to get around and live as much as a normal life as I can. It has left emotional scars and a few physical ones. I battle with anxiety and depression
everyday but having a great community of family, friends, doctors, counsellors and CNIB has truly helped me in all ways of life. I have managed to find a lot of opportunities and purpose in my life again.

A Conversation with Lori Shea
By Lori Shea and Kelly Picco

We recently had a moment to sit down with Lori Shea, a participant in various Foundation Programs.

CNIB: What programs have the CNIB offered that you have participated in?
Lori: Information sessions, a social event (dining out), the book club, heavyweights, vision mate, tech time and rug hooking.

CNIB: Do you enjoy the social and recreational programs?
Lori: Yes, Heavyweights and the book club especially. Thanks to you, I finally get the opportunity to go to the gym after trying so long to get someone to go with me. I no longer need a volunteer because the coach is accommodating. He keeps it interesting each week by mixing up the work out. I enjoy The Book Club
because I love reading and getting to meet people who also enjoy it, and having a discussion with them about the book. It introduces me to other books and novels that I may not have once considered reading.

CNIB: Would you like to see more variety of social and recreational programs being offered by the CNIB?
Lori: Sure, more programs would be beneficial to all clients, but we must understand that there are only so many hours in a day. What has been organized within the last year is amazing. It is a good mix of social and
recreational activities. More practical life skills are offered. Some clients think that just because they can’t see, they can’t do it. They need to attend these various events to realize that they can do whatever they put their minds too.

CNIB: You’ve also attended the tech time program several times, did you find this helpful?
Lori: Yes, I think the key is having the presentation is at the beginning, so people are ready with their questions. I also like that the participants are given time at the end to ask questions on whatever topic they would like to learn more about. The fact is, if the topic discussed is new, it makes clients aware of new
technologies and of what is available for accessing and helping them out day to day. I like the fact that both day and evening programs are being offered because that allows everyone the opportunity to participate. As for breaking into small groups, it presents an opportunity to help others and learn more new things. There are always numerous volunteers available to help if one on one help is needed.

CNIB Foundation Self – Advocacy Champions
By Debbie Ryan

For someone living with a disability, like sight loss, you often have to fight for your right to be included in the community you live in. Most often than not, this is a result of outdated accessibility standards and building codes. These standards and codes are what our construction trades, engineers and architects follow.

Over the past three decades persons with disabilities have participated in hundreds of consultations, and awareness programs, yet the world we live in remains relatively inaccessible for a person with sight loss.

CNIB Self-Advocacy Champions are an amazing group of non-partisan individuals with life experiences, who want to change what it means to be blind today, and ensure there is a level playing field for everyone in our province.

Over the past year the group has been meeting to help identify key issues which limit participation. Some examples are that subsidized public and para transportation does not exist for people living outside St John’s and accessible crosswalks and pedestrian signals are limited or, in most communities, nonexistent.

If you are interested in learning how to become a strong self-advocate, why not join our program and we can help you raise your voice and create a better understanding of the importance of building inclusive and accessible communities. The program is open to those with sight loss, caregivers and family members. If you would like to learn more about this program, please email  or call 1-800-563-2642Image removed.Image removed..

Vision Mate Volunteers needed!

CNIB Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador is also looking for Vision Mate volunteers in Central and Western Newfoundland. If you have two hours per week to help an individual who is blind or partially sighted with various social and recreations activities, we are looking for you. To register or for more information
contact or call 709-754-1180Image removed. ext. 5813.

Thank you to our client volunteers for the Fish and Brewis Competition!

CNIB clients, with help from their family members and the community at large organized a cooking competition to benefit the CNIB Foundation Programs. On September 9, 2018 George Sweeney, Cindy Antle and her husband Al hosted a Fish and Brewis Competition! A cooking competition that brought together 10 home chefs. Each prepared their own personal recipe for Newfoundland's traditional fish and brewis dish. There were some incredibly delicious versions presented and guests were able to sample each one and then vote on their favourite one.

The winner.... George Sweeney. Congratulations to George and to everyone who entered the competition. The real winners were the over 50 people who to got to enjoy the food while supporting CNIB Foundation Programs and those who rely on those programs every day. Our volunteers raised over $1,500.00. Thank you!

If you would like to host your very own fundraiser, talk to Amanda a call at 754-1180 ext. 5807 or email  

Classified Section of CNIB-NL Newsletter
Do you have any independent living aids or assistive technology you would like to sell or donate to CNIB, let us know? We will place them in the hands of people who need them. Thank you.

Contact Us!

Please note that CNIB offices will be closed during the holiday season. December 25, 2018 - January 2, 2019. We would like to take this time to wish you and your families a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!

CNIB Foundation/Vision Loss Rehabilitation Offices are located;

St. John’s
70 The Boulevard A1A 1K2
(709) 754-1180Image removed.

Grand Falls-Windsor
Bayley Business Centre
4A Bayley Street, Suite 605
(709) 489-6515Image removed.

Corner Brook
3 Herald Avenue, 1st Floor A2H 4B8
(709) 639-9167Image removed.

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