BC Association of Community Response Networks

Campbell River’s Community Response Network and White Cane Club Form Important Relationship to Support Low, No Vision Adults

One afternoon in November 2022, the Campbell River Community Response Network (CRN) and its coordinator Cheryl Stinson conducted a presentation at the public library to the local chapter of the White Cane Club, informing 12 low-vision adults of Seniors Hub, a resource that consolidates all the area’s support resources into one spot. Adult abuse, neglect, and self-neglect resources are one of many geared toward this community’s seniors.

The Campbell River White Cane Club is an extension of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). Formed in 2014, the CCB provides peer support and activities for those without or limited sight. Members are blind, blind/deaf, partially sighted, and sighted.

After the presentation, the audience expressed their appreciation, telling Cheryl that everything she shared was new to them. They asked her to return and to invite others who may have similar information to share.

This article could just end there. But, there is so much more to unpack from this story.

According to Statistics Canada’s 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, 1.5 million Canadians self-identify as having a “seeing disability”.

“There are over 400 people in Campbell River who report having significant sight issues. In BC and the Yukon, that number is approximately 10,000,” says Cheryl. “The real number is probably closer to 60,000 just in this province alone.”

Why is this important?

People with sight impairment face additional barriers, especially when it comes to accessing community supports. These barriers grow as the person ages. Seniors with low or no vision become even more vulnerable than their sighted peers.

“Regular access to eye care, similar to ear care and hearing, can help prevent a lot of these issues. Access to this kind of care is a barrier for many,” she continues. “Imagine not being able to see the directions on medications or read about community resources because a document isn’t compatible with assistive technology.”

And with the push to move the world online, already at-risk adults are becoming even more so.

“Delivering hardcopy newspapers, for example, created an opportunity for connection,” Cheryl explains. “This might be the only time in the day a senior might socialize with someone. Now that newspapers have gone online, many people are disconnected from the world. They are becoming invisible. We have no idea where they are anymore.”

In today’s reality of record-high inflation rates, people are making difficult choices too.

“The choices are literally between food and medication,” she states. “As a CRN, we want to ensure people are able to access services and supports, especially if they are at-risk or if there are barriers.”

The presentation from last November was more than just a presentation. It was the start of an important relationship between like-minded people from complementary organizations who want nothing more than to take care of their community.

“There are so many support organizations we don’t know about. Imagine if we were all aware of each other. Imagine how much ‘vulnerability’ we can erase by working together and connecting people most in need to what they need. Now that I know what low and no vision members of our community want, the CRN is in a great position to bring back information and important relationships that make sense for them,” says Cheryl.

Imagine that.

View more information about the Campbell River CRN. To get involved in their work, please contact Cheryl at seniorshubcoord@gmail.com.

(Cheryl was also our volunteer of the month for our July/August 2022 edition. Read her profile here.)

Follow the Campbell River White Cane Club on Facebook and visit the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) web for more information about programs and supports for loved ones who have low or no vision.

Written by: Debbie Chow, Links Communication Solutions. Follow Debbie on LinkedIn @debbiechowabc.

(Header Photo: Office 365 Stock Image)