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Three generations of volunteers

Three generations of volunteers offer companionship and support...

Not many families can boast three generations of volunteers all helping the same cause.  However, this family has seen teenagers, their parents and their grandparents all pitch in to help improve the lives of people with vision loss.

Brooke and Jamie Newton were just 17 and 16 years of age respectively when they approached Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria about coordinating a short aquatic program for people with vision loss to learn vital water safety and swimming skills, as part of their studies.  As a result, Brooke became a Volunteer Ambassador

for Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria, helping promote a range of programs at sport and disability Expos and other organisations across Melbourne.

Brooke’s Ambassador role not only prompted members of the community to become involved with Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria – it motivated her own family members to jump on board too!

Brooke’s mother, Yvonne - who had spent much of her adult life raising five children – joined Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria's Walking with Willpower program and was matched up with Jen Noble, an older woman who is blind living in an independent facility in Brookfield, Melton, for regular walks.  Jen was very fearful of stepping outside her front door; and her main aim was to build the confidence to walk around the Brooklyn Gardens’ inner boundary.

Through this activity, Yvonne and Jen struck up a great friendship. Thanks to Yvonne’s gregarious personality and highly-honed nurturing skills, Jen surpassed her goal, so the walking buddies progressed to exploring Melton’s parks, shopping centres and cafes - not to mention the inside of a Two Dollar Shop where they had fun tried on costumes together.

Yvonne’s experience as a volunteer walking buddy with Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria helped her to secure employment as a Patient Service Assistant in a hospital; and she began further studies in Personal Care.  Jen now walks with a new sighted volunteer, who is keeping her active and healthy.

It was not long after Yvonne had to stop volunteering that Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria Program Coordinator, Miriam, received a call from Yvonne’s parents, Rosemarie and Reg.  Having heard about Yvonne’s wonderful experience volunteering, they also wanted to offer their time.  Unable to walk very fast or far, they assisted by driving Victor – who is blind and deaf - to and from a mens’ exercise group each Thursday evening.

Reg had been a member of this same exercise group for some time and was able to introduce Victor to all his friends and the Personal Trainer – helping him create important social connections.  It wasn’t long before Reg discovered that Victor used to be a sparring partner for a champion boxer and that he loved boxing.  Victor soon happily replaced his chair exercises for a punching bag! Although Reg and Rosemarie were recently unable to continue volunteering, they arranged for another club member to drive Victor to and from the exercise group. He continues to love these outings, saying “…they’re the highlight of me week!”

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