The steps at the South Cariboo Business Centre would be a great place for high visibility paint, says Lori Fry. (Max Winkelman - 100 Mile Free Press)

White Cane Club looks to work with business community to install high visibility paint

‘There’s no reason not to do this’

The 100 Mile House White Cane Club is calling upon the business community to connect with them this summer and make their businesses more visually impaired friendly.

This can be done simply with high visibility paint the club is ready and willing to help apply to door handles, sidewalks and unexpected steps. It’s all part of their mission to make 100 Mile House more accessible for the blind and visually impaired.

Lori Fry is the last founding member still with the group and is herself visually impaired by the genetic condition stickler syndrome, which causes a fault with her eyes’ retinas that makes them tear overtime and detach. Now 58, it’s a condition she’s had to deal with her whole life that has also been deteriorating her whole life, with Fry saying she has maybe one per cent of her vision left.

Fry said they’ve been in the community for 30 years by the end of 2020 ever since the group was first formed by Ralph Middlemass and his wife Louise after Ralph lost his sight due to diabetes. Since then the club has offered peer counselling and support to its members, educated the local community about the effects of vision loss and blindness, funded the trip’s of youth to a space camp in Alabama for the blind, put a $2,000 magnifier in the library to name but a few of their initiatives.

“We try to give back to the community as much as we can like with education and awareness and services and support,” Fry said. “It’s a lot of conversation about helping people deal with vision loss. Like anything in life any illness or disability, it does take some adjustment and we think we’ve been helpful to many people over the years.”

Their most recent and ongoing initiative is promoting accessibility which she said the majority of the population understands that if you create a community that is designed for seniors and those with disabilities, you’ve met the needs of all people on the planet. Fry understands that it can often be difficult to make changes for the few rather than the many due to the extra costs which is in part why the club has been reaching out to 100 Mile’s elderly population as you don’t have to be blind or have a specialized eye condition to be visually impaired as age does impact our eyesight.

“Most people start to experience some vision loss by their mid-40s even, so having taken that into consideration we like to approach this as a combined venture that, in fact, our accessibility markings could benefit more than just the visually impaired,” Fry said.

The funding for these new accessibility markers comes from a grant that the White Cane Club applied for and money from the pockets of the club’s own membership. She’s hoping that by reaching out to businesses who have taken a hit due to COVID-19 she’ll be able to raise their morale and create some positive buzz around them. Collaboration with other groups and businesses is central to everything they do, she added, as it benefits them it benefits the community.

Fry is of the opinion there are a few areas throughout the community who could use a touch up with high visibility paint that would also make them better including the stairs on the South Cariboo Business Centre. That would be a perfect place to start, she chuckled, as the optometrist is right in that building and they’ve remarked in the past it could some vision impaired markings.

High visibility paint, she said, is typically yellow like the type of paint used to mark highways providing people with the contrast they need to avoid injury. To take part and arrange for high visibility paint to be added to their storefront businesses need to simply call Fry directly at 250-395-2452 or send her an email at odifry@shaw.ca.

“It’s a win, all it takes is a simple email or phone (call) to say ‘yes I’m in’ and a member of the White Cane Club will work with that business to say what would you like done and how can we get it done?” Fry said. “There’s no reason not to do this, please participate and you’d be really helping and benefitting the majority of this community, our visitors, tourists everybody.”

She’d like to thank everyone who recognizes and supports the White Cane Club throughout the community.


newsroom@100milefreepress.net

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