Saturday, October 8, 2016

Happy 10th Anniversary to Canvelo!

Ten years ago Brig. General (ret) Moti Regev visited the center while riding in the area. He discovered two tandem bicycles that were being used by volunteers to ride with graduates of the center. Moti's idea of expanding the tandem biking activities soon became a reality. His idea and initiative led to the establishment of "Canvelo" – the Center's tandem biking club.
On Friday Canvelo celebrated its 10th anniversary with a ride through the Ben Shemen forest.  THis year the JNF has begun a project of planting and establishing a special grove for the blind in the forest and they are now in the process of building a special biking trail for tandem bikes called "Tovim Hashnayim" or "Two is Great".  All three Canvelo biking clubs from the center, Sharon area, and north participated in the ride, which took the bikers over rugged trails that climbed and descended through the forest.  A picnic lunch was served  at the end of the ride.
Canvelo offers a unique opportunity to engage in safe and supervised cycling activity, while traveling to different areas of the country and experiencing the feelings of pride, accomplishment, and belonging that group sports provide.   In many ways tandem biking is similar to working with a guide dog - involving the same skills of communication, trust, and cooperation between the two members of each tandem team that are so important when working with a guide dog.  The sighted volunteers who ride with their blind teammates are an outstanding example of the volunteering spirit - devoting themselves to making it possible for blind and visually impaired riders to get out and cycle.
Many members of the Canvelo cycling clubs will be participating in the Sportiada in Eilat, where teams from various companies and organizations will compete in a wide variety of sports events.  This year the Sportiada will feature a tandem biking race for the first time.
We wish Canvelo many more kilometers of biking together and making the sport of cycling accessable for blind and visually impaired riders.

Riders from all three Canvelo groups after the ride in the Ben Shemen Forest
Special congratulations are in order to Uri Basha, a graduate of the center, and Moti Rosen who completed the entire Epic Israel mountain biking competition on a tandem! The ride is undertaken by professional bikers and demands skill, stamina, and outstanding technique!
Uri Basha and Moti Rosen - Epic Israel on a tandem bike!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Shana Tova!

Best wishes for the coming year to all our friends in Israel and abroad!  Wishing you a year of fulfillment, health, success, and accomplishment! 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Gadi Yarkoni takes 9th Place in Rio Paralympics!

The Israeli marathon runner Gadi Yarkoni participated in the marathon run today in Rio, which was the closing event in the Paralympic games this year.  Gadi placed 9th in the race with a time of 3:05:25.  This was Yarkoni's second time participating in the Paralympic Games.  His record for the Marathon run is 2:48:56.  He came in 13th place in the marathon in London, finishing in 3:01:51, and ran the New York Marathon with Noach Braun in 2010.

 Gadi ran the marathon in Rio tethered to his trainer, Yosef Gazacho, who ran alongside him or behind him throughout the marathon.  Escort runners are not allowed to run in front of a blind runner in order that they not pull them forward in any way.

 Yarkoni, 41, lost his vision in 1993 while fighting against the Hizballah in Lebanon.
He is a graduate of the center who received his first guide dog in 1996.  He was partnered with his fourth guide dog Butch, a yellow Labrador, in November of 2015.

We are proud of Gadi and the other Israeli athletes and their fine accomplishments!  Kol Hakavod!

Gadi and Noach running the New York City Marathon in November, 2012

Gadi Yarkoni and Elon Brachfeld running in the Ro'im Rahok event, 2012

Gadi and his guide dog Butch, 2015

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Our Bikers - From London to Slovenia

The central club of Canvelo has just returned from a week-long biking excursion to Slovenia.  The group consisted of 13 sighted riders, 9 blind riders, and several single bikers – 27 riders in all.  The first three days of the trip were in an area east of the capital city of Lubiana, and the final three days were in Bled in the western area of the country.  The routes took the bikers over scenic mountains and valleys. 
Eli Yablonek, one of the blind riders who took part in the excursion, summarized the trip in one word: "Terrific!"  Eli described the week as the best excursion the group has had so far.  "There was a lot of comeraderie, a great atmosphere, and wonderful routes."  Eli also commended the organizers Moti Regev, Tova Yanovsky, and Roni Dik as well as the volunteers who were extremely helpful throughout the trip and Ilan Sivan who maintained the tandem bikes throughout the trip (without a single flat tire!) .  Eli particularly enjoyed taking his guide dog Glen along.  "There was lots of togetherness and a great atmosphere.  We're waiting for next year!"  
Canvelo Riders in Slovenia: "The best excursion so far!"
Meanwhile, Martin Segal, the Executive Director of the British Friends of the IGDCB recently took part in and completed the Prudential Ride London / Surrey 100-mile cycle challenge and raised over £1,500 for the Centre.  Martin said he was proud to have completed this challenge to help raise much needed funds and awareness for the IGDCB.  This year Martin completed the ride in 6 hours and 35 minutes, and next year he plans to do it again and take at least 30 minutes off his time!    The
Martin (in yellow jersey at  left) crossing the finish line at Buckingham Palace

Monday, September 5, 2016

Latest News about Our Staff

Lots of advancements and changes are taking place in the center staff this year!  In August we said goodbye to Eli Ben-Boher, who has been working at the center since 2003.  Eli was in charge of our puppy raisers, and also contributed a great deal to the center with his wonderful talent as a photographer.  We wish Eli and his family success in the future!
Dana Halperin has replaced Eli as director of our puppy raisers.  Dana traveled to Great Britain last June to enrich her training with Britich Guide Dogs and learned a lot that she will need to know in her new job.  We wish her success!  
Vered, who was originally designated to be an apprentice trainer together with Hilla Ben Meir, will instead be joining Dana as part of the puppy raising staff and will be certified in April, 2017.. 
Meanwhile, congratulations are in order to Hilla Ben Meir, who has completed the theoretical portion of her three – year training as a guide dog trainer and mobility instructor. 
Congratulations also to Yoav has completed his training and is now a full-fledged guide dog trainer and mobility instructor! 
We also welcome Yelena, who has joined the kennel staff.

Congratulations to all and success in your work!
Photos: Dana in the UK, Vered, Hila, and Yoav at work

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Small Kids Raise a Big Contribution!

Most schools celebrate every child's birthday during the year by asking each child to bring a small gift to every other child in the class - a custom that adds up to a significant outlay for parents, and often results in a lot of small but superfluous gifts for the children.  This year Ronit Shachar's first grade class at the A.D. Gordon School in Herzliya decided to do something different - they opted, together with their parents, to donate half of the birthday money to charity.  After searching on the Internet for a suitable charity, preferably something having to do with dogs, they found us.  
Yesterday Bracha brought Dinka to Ronit's 1st grade class to speak to the children and to thank them for their contribution of NIS 3600.  These kids not only know a lot more about the importance of guide dogs for the blind, but have also assimilated the importance of giving to others.  Kol Hakavod to Ronit, the parents, and the first graders!  The card says: "We, the pupils of the first grade class of the A.D. Gordon School, present you with this contribution that we collected from our birthday fund throughout the year - NIS 3600.  We ask that you use this money for guide dogs to help the blind.   Thank you for your cooperation!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

24 שעות ללא חוש הראייה Twenty - Four Hours Without Seeing

מאמנים ומדריכים במרכז עוברים מסלול הכשרה שממשיך שלוש שנים.  המסלול נקבע על ידי הפדרציה הבינלאומית לכלבי נחייה וכולל מטלות לימודיות רבות.  אחת המטלות היא ללכת עם כיסויעיניים במשך 24 שעות ולבצע מטלות יומיומיות - ללא חוש הראייה. 

לפני חודש יואב והילה, שני מדריכים שלנו בשלבים שונים של ההכשרה, בצעו את המשימה להיות 24 שעות עם כיסויי עיניים.  הם שהו במרכז בחדרי האירוח, קיבלו כלב נחייה לעבוד איתו  וחוו לזמן קצר  את אותן החוויות שהקליינטים שלנו מתמודדים בהן כשהם מגיעים לקורס במרכז. 
להלן ההתרשמויות של הילה אחרי התרגיל. 
לפני תחילת התרגיל החלטתי שהמחשבה שתנחה אותי במהלך 24 השעות בכיסוי עיניים תהיה להנות מהתרגיל , לקחת גם את הקשיים בצורה חיובית וכמובן כמה שיותר להתייחס אליו כחוויה לימודית .
התחלנו את התרגיל ביום ראשון בארוחת הצהריים.  החוויה  היתה נעימה.  כמובן מאתגר לאכול ללא יכולת לראות.  חשבתי על כל הארוחות בהן ישבתי יחד עם אנשים בקורסים.  
ההיכרות המוקדמת עם החדר עזרה לי באופן משמעותי.  בעת ההתארגנות בחדר חשבתי עד כמה זה חשוב לשמור על הסדר.
כשהכניסו את הכלבה דיוה לחדר, הרגשתי קצת איך הקליינט מרגיש כשמכניסים את הכלב לחדר בפעם הראשונה.  רציתי  ליצור קשר איתה, אבל חוסר היכולת לראות אותה יצר מעט ניתוק.  נוכחות של הכלבה יותר מורגשת אם היא נגשת מיד. 
הנסיעה ברכב בכיסויי עיניים משרה תחושה של חוסר שליטה, והבנתי מדוע רועי נוהג להעביר לחברי הקורס מידע אודות היעד אליו אנחנו נוסעים.  ההליכה עם דיוה ברחוב לא מוכר היתה בשבילי חוויה טובה ואף מעצימה.   ביום השני יצאנו שוב למסלול וההליכה היתה טובה, עם קצב מתאים. היה כביש סואן לידי, וכל משאית,  אופניים שעברו מולי במהירות, ושינויי הקצב של דיוה קצת הבהילו אותי.  לרגע שכחתי את יכולותיי כמאמנת והתמודדתי עם המצב יותר כלקוחה.  שאר התרגילים היו מאוד מעניינים והקנו לי עוד ידע , כלים ונסיון להבנת הלקוח.  הם הוסיפו להבנה שלי כיצד מתמודדים עם צמתים וחציות והשימוש החשוב בחוש השמיעה. 
עברתי גם שיעור ניידות עם מקל עם נתנאל שהיה מעשיר מאוד.  הרגשתי שהמקל פחות נוח מאשר כלב נחייה, אך הבנתי את היתרונות שיש לעזר ניידות זה , בעיקר הקלות שבה ניתן לקפל אותו או לפתוח אותו בעת הצורך.
החוויה של כיסויי העיניים היתה חיובית מאוד. אני חושבת שהחוויה הזו הכרחית לכל מי שעובד במקצוע. ההתמודות ולו במעט עם מה שהלקוחות שלנו חווים מעצימה ומחזקת את כל התכונות שמדריך זקוק להן: אמפטיה, סובלנות,  ומודעות.  היממה שחוויתי ללא חוש הראייה העצימה לי את ההבנה שבשביל אנשים עם עיוורון שום דבר אינו מובן מאליו.  הדברים הכי קטנים דורשים הרבה מחשבה ויש צורך להסתגלות מנטלית ופיזית.  החוויה העשירה את ארגז הכלים שלי כמדריכה וכמאמנת לעתיד. 
Trainers and instructors at the center undergo a three – year training period.  The training course and assignments are determined by the International Guide Dog Federation and include numerous learning tasks.   One of these tasks is to spend 24 hours blindfolded and to perform daily tasks and navigate without seeing.
Yoav and Hilla, two future instructors in training at the center, spent 24 hours blindfolded.  They stayed in the guest rooms at the center, received a guide dog to work with, and experienced – for a short time – what our clients cope with when they arrive at the center to receive a guide dog.
Hila described her experiences during the 24 hours she spent blindfolded:
Before the exercise began I decided that I would enjoy the exercise, undertake the difficulties in a positive way, and that I would relate to the entire task as a learning experience.
The task began at lunch on the first day.  It was pleasant, but challenging to eat without being able to see.  I was reminded of all the meals during which I sat with people during courses.  
I found the task of getting organized in my room extremely helpful.  I was immediately aware that it would be extremely important to make sure to keep everything in a precise place. 
When they brought my dog Diva into my room I was able to experience how clients feel when they meet their dog for the first time.  I wanted to make contact with her, but my inability to see made me feel somewhat alienated.  It is easier to sense the dog's presence if it approaches you immediately.

I felt a lack of control while riding in the car blindfolded.  I realized just why Roee makes sure to tell clients where we are going when we are driving to town during the course.  Walking down an unfamiliar street with Diva was a wonderful empowering experience.  During the second day we took another route, and it was a good walk at the right pace.  There was a busy street next to me and every truck and cyclist that passed me by and every change in Diva's pace scared me.   For a moment I forgot my abilities as a trainer and dealt with the situation as a client.  The other exercises were very interesting and offered me more tools, knowledge, and experiences for understanding clients.  These exercises helped me understand how to deal with busy intersections and crosswalks, as well as the importance of using one's sense of hearing.
 Netanel El Baz, a certified trainer and mobility instructor at the center, gave me a mobility lesson using a white mobility cane that was extremely enlightening.  I felt that the cane was much less comfortable than a guide dog, but I understood how convenient a cane is, since it can be folded up and opened when needed.     
The experience of living blindfolded for a day was extremely positive, and I think that it is essential for anyone working in the profession.    Coping with what our clients experience – even for a short time – strengthens and intensifies empathy, tolerance, and awareness - all traits that a guide dog mobility instructor needs.   The 24 hours that I spent without seeing helped me better understand that people who are blind take nothing for granted.  Even the smallest things require a lot of thought as well as physical and mental adapting.  The experience gave me valuable tools as a future trainer and instructor.

Hila walking down a city street with Diva הילה בהליכה בעיר עם דיוה 

יואב מלביש רתמה לכלב Yoav putting a harness on his dog