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Mobility Program for vision-impaired children visits NSW Origin camp

Participants in the Guide Dogs' Mobility Adventures program took a special detour from their scheduled activities on Friday when they visited the NSW State of Origin camp in Coffs Harbour.

Coffs Harbour's Jance Tortely, who has Nystagmus, which is involuntary movement of the eyes, had the opportunity to take to the training field with members of the NSW VB Blues and participate in a series of ball games.

Origin players Trent Merrin, Boyd Cordner, Josh Morris and Trent Hodkinson each took time out from their preparations for the series decider at Suncorp Stadium to take part in a physical skill-building exercise, which included throwing and catching a rugby league shaped ball with bells embedded in it. The players also wore a pair of low-vision glasses to experience the challenges of vision impairment.

Mobility Adventures, supported by nib foundation, is a program developed specifically for children and teenagers who are blind or vision impaired. It gives the participants the opportunity to improve their physical ability, self-planning and social skills in a supportive group environment.

Jeremy Hill, Regional Manager for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT said the visit not only provided a unique experience for the children but for the players, an insight into the difficulties those with vision impairment face every day.

"A key component of the program is to provide opportunities for kids to take part in activities that improve physical skills in a fun, friendly, encouraging and safe environment. We certainly took this to a new level, with some of rugby league's best athletes taking part in the activities with the participants," Mr Hill said.

nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe said it was pleasing to see the athletes and children brought together by nib's major sponsorship of the NSW VB Blues and nib foundation's support of the Mobility Program.

"It was a wonderful opportunity, not only for the kids to increase their participation in sport but to do so alongside some of the stars of the NSW VB Blues," Mrs Tribe said.

After the Origin camp visit, the participants regrouped for some fun mobility activities and beach games in Coffs Harbour. Throughout the year Guide Dogs provides various skill development and social activities for children with vision impairment.