Saturday, November 07, 2009

Visually impaired teenagers live an active lifestyle!

The remarkable achievements of six blind or visually impaired Christchurch youngsters will receive royal recognition today.

They have climbed trees, taken to the slopes on skis, gone tramping and even taken on mountain-biking in pursuit of a Duke of Edinburgh Hillary award.

Tamara Nolan, 16, Emma Jenkins, 16, Shari Whittaker-Tyro, 15, Dylan Neale, 17, Malcolm Harding, 16, and Rhea Smithson, 20, will receive their awards from Prince Edward at Linwood College, along with 58 other young people.

Five of the recipients achieved their silver award after Elmwood Visual Resource Centre teachers Jenny Healey and Glenda Atkins took time off work to take the youngsters on a camp to Hanmer Springs.

Healey and Atkins have supervised award programme participants for four years.

Healey said she had enjoyed seeing the young people's confidence and self-esteem grow.

If the Duke of Edinburgh award was not available to visually impaired youngsters, there was a danger they would sit at home and do nothing, Healey said. "This gets them out meeting different people. They make great friends."

The Duke of Edinburgh award programme offers a personal challenge.

Participants must complete an adventurous journey, do some physical recreation, help the community and master a skill.

Some aspects of the programme were adapted to the individual needs, Healey said.

Smithson said she had skied with someone in front of her.

"We challenge ourselves, even though it's hard," Tamara, of Marian College, said.

Prince William will open the New Zealand Supreme Court building in January, Prime Minister John Key announced yesterday. He will be in the country from January 17 to 19. The prince last visited in 2005 when he followed the British Lions' rugby tour.


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