A New Direction: Dan Mancina

Dan leans back onto his skateboard, which is propped up against his back. He is lying on a low wall outdoors with people walking in the background on a sidewalk in a sunny public area. A white cane leans on the wall near his feet

Dan Mancina was very active growing up, not letting a diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa (RP) at age 13 slow him down. Then in his 20s his diminishing vision led him to rely on others to guide him around and he quit his favorite pastime, skateboarding.

In 2015 he was working as a certified massage therapist when he came to Leader Dog for Orientation and Mobility (white cane) Training. He was ready to get back to a more active and independent life, but he didn’t realize the change that would happen. “The week I spent at Leader Dog definitely changed my whole outlook on life, my career and everything,” said Dan. “It was my first time in an environment that was inclusive and understanding of visual impairment. It led me into the rehabilitation field.”

Over the past four years, Dan received an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in vision rehabilitation therapy (VRT). “I received my VRT certification in September. Now I’ll be teaching others who are blind daily living skills, helping them adjust to their vision loss, be independent, seek employment,” said Dan. As a CVRT, he’ll be working alongside certified O&M specialists like Leslie Hoskins, who was his instructor at Leader Dog.

No story about Dan is complete until you mention his skateboarding. Just prior to coming to LDB in 2015, he began skating again. “I was using my cane a little bit with my skating, but now it’s my #1 tool that I use,” explained Dan. “I adapted my cane techniques to skating, from judging where objects are to sweeping and making sure my environment is clear. I can’t skate without it.”

Red Bull Skateboarding produced a video of Dan skating and explaining how he uses his cane to skate. Please, do not try this at home.

This article is from our latest issue of Update newsletter. 

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