20-year-old Brianna was born with glaucoma. A group of eye diseases caused by damage to the optic nerve. It results in irreversible vision loss.
“Today my vision doesn’t have any depth perception. After around two metres it gets kind of foggy and blurry. And I don’t have any peripheral vision.”
Brianna is legally blind. And every day she struggles to do simple things often taken for granted.
“I struggle with navigating train and bus stations. At night-time, my vision declines more. I can’t see steps. I can’t make out the road.”
A Guide Dog could make an incredible difference to Brianna’s life. From keeping her safe, to helping her to reclaim her independence.
Growing up with a vision impairment meant that Brianna’s childhood was anything but easy.
“I did sport when I was younger – basketball, soccer, hockey – anything I could.
“But as my sight got worse, I was told I wasn’t allowed to play sport anymore. Because if I were to get hit by the ball, I could possibly go blind. And that caused a lot of worry to a lot of people, especially at school.”
Instead of playing the sports she loved, Brianna was forced to sit on the sidelines as her peers had fun without her.
And these are not even the worst of her childhood memories.
“A lot of the time I got bullied because of my vision impairment. Other kids would tell me things were there when they weren’t. Tripping over or running into things was very common.
“I’ve been in situations where kids would invite me over… but it was either a prank or a joke. I’ve struggled making friend because of how different I was.”
In spite of (or maybe thanks to) these upsetting experiences, Brianna grew up craving independence. As a little girl, she would often dream of being able to do everything by herself. But as her sight grew worse, Brianna began to believe that her independence just wasn’t to be.
While she’s waiting to meet her pawfect match, Brianna has been using a white cane to help her get around but it does not give her the confidence to live life as she deserves. And there are still many challenges that it cannot help her overcome.
“The thing I probably struggle with most is work. I struggle in any workplace environment that I’m in.”
It takes a lot of work to train a highly skilled Guide Dog. And more still to match them with Western Australians like Brianna. This intensive and specialist process takes more than two years, and it requires both dedication and funding.
To train the next generation of Guide and Assistance Dogs and end Brianna’s wait to meet her pawfect match, Guide Dogs WA needs the support of generous Western Australians like you.
“I’ve definitely been waiting for this. I think that would help so much with my confidence. I think it would help so much with just general daily living!
“I’ve been thinking about being matched with a Guide Dog for the last three, four, five years.”
Support from the Western Australian community helps Guide Dogs WA to train the next generation of Guide and Assistance Dogs so Brianna can finally meet her pawfect match!
“Deciding that I wanted to go on the waiting list for a Guide Dog was about how I know it would help me, regardless of what I’m doing.
“So, not only would it help me physically walk around and do things without feeling so much pressure, but it would also help mentally. It would mean someone was there, a part of my life, regardless of whether it’s a person or not. And they would help me maintain a good state of mind.”
With your generous support, Brianna is looking forward to a fuller and more independent future.
“I’m still very young, so I do want to explore so much. And a Guide Dog will be such a big change to my life – helping me do things, see new things, new places and meet new people.”
Please make a generous Christmas Appeal gift, today. Help train the next generation of Guide and Assistance Dogs so Brianna can finally meet her pawfect match!
“To know that there are people who want to donate towards helping match me with a Guide Dog – and helping me gain confidence with what I want to do with my life – it’s really amazing.
“You’re giving a lot of people like me an opportunity and a chance to improve themselves or their lives. I’m really thankful and I’m really grateful.”
Thank you so much for thinking of Western Australians like Brianna this Christmas.