White Cane Day proclaimed

LEWISTOWN – A number of area organizations gathered on Tuesday afternoon at the Mifflin County Historic Courthouse in Lewistown to celebrate White Cane Day, a time dedicated to raising awareness about visual impairment and the significance of the white cane.

The NuVisions Center, Mifflin County Commissioners and area Lions Club members were in attendance.

“The white cane is a significant tool for independence and a symbol of equal access and expanding opportunities for blind and visually impaired persons,” read Commissioner Mark Sunderland from the White Cane Day proclamation. “We, the Mifflin County Commissioners, hereby proclaim Oct. 15, 2013, as White Cane Safety Day in Mifflin County …”

The white cane, both a symbol to recognize the user as visually impaired as well as a tool for visual impairment navigation, was developed in 1930 by George Bonham, a late president of the Peoria Lions Club, said John Waddell, of the Belleville Lions.

“White canes were made and distributed, and the Peoria City Council adopted an ordinance giving the bearers the right of way to cross the street,” Waddell said. “Today white cane laws are on the books of every state in the U.S. and many other countries …”

Among the speakers were Lisa Palm and Kay Groff, both users of white canes, from NuVisions Center.

“I can’t leave my house without the white cane; it’s my eyes,” Palm said. “Without it I would run into everything.”

Groff’s address focused more on awareness: “I’ve been using my cane since my teens when I went to school in Philadelphia,” Groff said. “My theory is that the cane is wonderful, but people need to be more aware of what it means and pay attention to it.”

According to the Pennsylvania White Cane Law, drivers must yield the right of way to any totally or partially blind person carrying a visible white cane or is accompanied by a guide dog. Violation of the law results in a summary offense punishable by a fine, the law states.

During the ceremony, an unexpected donation of $105 was given to the NuVisions Center, an agency that works to improve the lives of those with vision, physical or mental impairments, by the Mifflin County Junior High School.

Abby Peachey, a teacher at the school, presented the donation on behalf of her health class which collected donations from staff and students. Students were also encouraged to dress in white shirts with red accessories for White Cane Day.

For more information on local resources for the blind or visually impaired, contact the NuVisions Center in Lewistown at 248-111 or visit www.nu-visions.net.