When Kylie Paddison graduates from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary this month, she will have the distinction of being the first legally blind student to do so in the past 10 years.
Paddison, 17, was surprised to discover that last week when she was awarded a $1,000 post-secondary honorarium from the 100 Mile House & District Blind and Visually Impaired White Cane Club. She also received an additional $250 cheque from the 100 Mile House Lions Club.
“(Kylie) is very outgoing. She’s very appreciative and she understands she’s paving the way for the next students,” said Lori Fry, the White Cane Club’s director of public relations and fund development, as she presented the honorarium.
Paddison has spent her entire life dealing with achromatopsia, a condition that made her colour blind, light-sensitive and generally unable to see without special glasses.
“It’s not been terrible but I can’t play sports and I can’t ever get my driver’s license because of it,” she said. “In school, I’d have trouble seeing the board so I have to sit close to the front.”
However, she said she’s never let her limited vision stop her from succeeding at school. She is set to attend Vancouver Island University next year with an intent to study history and library services.
“People don’t really think about legally blind people and what it’s like for us,” she said. “People acknowledge that you need glasses but they don’t really think about how difficult it can be, especially when your vision can’t be corrected as much as other people. (I want people) to not forget blind people exist and acknowledge them.”
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Fry, who has degenerative stickler syndrome, can remember going to school and trying to pretend like nothing was wrong with her eyesight.
She added she is thankful that technology has evolved to allow people like Paddison to bridge that gap, and said it was a privilege to give her the money.
“It’s a community effort because we raise funds in the community, we like to distribute them in the community and we have not had a student to assist in 10 years,” Fry said. “That’s why the membership was able to grant a larger amount than normal.”
Anyone looking to get involved with the club is invited to contact Fry at 250-395-2452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.