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Cane Quest at Leader Dog

A smiling girl walking with a white cane on a sidewalk surrounded by fall leaves. With her are two adult women.

White Cane Safety Day is celebrated every year on October 15! This day celebrates the white cane as an essential tool that gives individuals who are blind or visually impaired a life full of independence. The white cane provides people who are traveling without sight the information they need to navigate through their environment safely.

A smiling man and boy stand outdoors in puffy coats. Each is holding a white cane.This year, Leader Dog celebrated White Cane Safety Day by hosting the second annual Michigan Cane Quest! Cane Quest, created by the Braille Institute, is a competition of cane skills for students who are blind or visually impaired. This year we had 13 students from all over Michigan in grades 3-12 join us in Rochester Hills, MI on the Leader Dog campus to compete! The students showed off their white cane techniques in various environments including on stairs, crossing streets and obstacle detection.

This event was all inclusive with family members also being invited to the Leader Dog campus to learn about blindness and what their student experiences. Parents and guardians met throughout the day to experience walking with a long white cane under blindfold and learning how to change a cane tip or restring a cane. Siblings of the Cane Quest students participated in fun games with blindfolds such as auditory corn hole and sack races to try something new and understand a bit more about what their brother or sister experiences.

Room full of people sitting and talking with a girl petting a black lab in a green vest in the foreground. In the background is a sign on the wall saying "Cane Quest"It wouldn’t be a Leader Dog event without incorporating some guide dog knowledge by providing an open guide dog discussion to talk about realistic expectations of a guide dog. It’s important that students and families understand what guide dogs do and don’t do before making a long-term commitment. A brief tour of the canine development center peaked a lot of interest and excitement followed by a trip to the Leader Dog gift shop!

These events were possible by partnering with the Michigan Department of Education Low Incidence Outreach (MDELIO), Braille Institute and the numerous certified orientation and mobility specialists (COMS) and volunteers. Together we provided a day of independence, empathy for individuals who are blind or visually impaired and a lot white cane pride!

Hear our Taking the Lead podcast hosts talk about Cane Quest in the episode “Just Say Hi.”