Seeing the World Through Electronic Eyes: My 2 Weeks to See it All By Leona Emberson

I recently had 2 weeks with electronic  glasses. Glasses that had the potential to change my view on the world, and myself. As is typical for me, I thought the process through, deliberated on the pros and cons, hesitated, and then jumped in with both feet, despite not being able to see where I might land. I may not have known where I would end up, but I knew what I wanted to see along the way. I had a list written out on bold lined paper with my black marker. This list included fun things such as seeing the city of Toronto from the top of the CN Tower, playing video and board games and  going to a museum. It included practical things like grocery shopping, reading menus, and using a computer. It also included sentimental things like watching my guide dog play in the park, seeing friend’s faces, and looking at photographs. The list I could not write up was what I would learn along the way.

A  picture of me silhouetted  in front of a circular window with my large electronic glasses on

These glasses were a bit cumbersome, and may have provided a form of visual distraction for those around me.

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Seeing The World Through Electronic Eyes by Leona Emberson

If you had the opportunity to be 2 feet taller, change your foot size, or perhaps instantly loose 20 pounds, just for a few weeks, would you? Knowing it would all go back to normal?

What about something more significant like becoming bilingual, or gaining an instant athletic strength, or the ability to play a musical instrument. Remember, it’s just for a few weeks. Would you take it?

Now what if you could experience something life altering like walking out of your wheelchair, or hearing without your hearing aids, or seeing with clarity out of eyes labelled ‘blind’. Would you do it? Just for a few weeks? Continue reading

Equality; It’s Empowering by Leona Emberson

This summer I competed in my first season of triathlon. I was registered for my races. I picked up my race kit including my bibs, bike stickers and the appropriate swim cap for my category. Before the race I racked my bike and set up my transition area. After last minute pep talks, I headed to the start line. I swam, I biked, I ran, I finished the race. I received my finisher’s medal. I will even be receiving recognition for the top finisher for the season in my category.

Does this sound “normal” to you? If it does, then you are most likely not a Para Athlete. Continue reading

Pig First Language Please! by Leona Emberson

At a communal breakfast table at a farmers market, I observed a conversation that gave me a chuckle, and later got me thinking. A little girl at the table started to talk about her pet potbelly pig, and how funny he was. In response, a woman told the girl of her childhood pet pig. The woman said her pig was “all white, no pink at all. She was an albino pig”. I put down my coffee, looked towards the two, and resisted the urge to take off my hat, let my white blond hair flow down, and tell the woman to use Pig First Language!

This endearing childhood pet deserved to be remembered for being a pig! A pig who loved to eat apple cores. A pig who rolled in the mud. A pig who had the cutest little Oink. A pig who had albinism. A pig who first and foremost, was a pig! Continue reading

My Mentor, My friend, My Inspiration by Leona Emberson

The most significant and impactful vision habilitation therapy I ever received came through meeting a friend and mentor. This woman, who I had the privilege and honour to call my friend and mentor, had the same visual condition as me, worked for the same employer, and had the generous spirit and love of life I strive to embrace.

For those reading who have had, and accepted, the opportunity to develop this perfect mentorship match, you will understand what this relationship meant to me. For those of you who have not yet had this hounour, this gift of life altering time and encouragement, I will try to explain what it means.

This woman understood the challenges I faced daily, because she had lived them. She understood the things I could not do, because she had already discovered them. She knew how to face the challenges and adversity I faced, because she had already battled them. She knew when to encourage me to fight, and when to stand aside and let me discover the adventure alone. Continue reading

Supporting my Paralympian Friends; It shouldn’t be this hard by Leona Emberson

I am blessed to have a number of inspiring and motivating Paralympians in my life who I call my friends. Some of them I have known since I was in high school, and some I have gotten to know in recent years. I have had the honour of playing goalball with and against the members of the Canadian Women’s Goalball team. I have run on the same path, although a few paces behind, members of the Canadian ParaAthletics track team. These experiences have helped me gain respect for them, and their counterparts as athletes.

What has had a more significant impact on my life has been the time I have spent with these friends out of the sports venue. The time in the coffee shop chatting, or in a theater watching a movie. The time we sit in each others living rooms playing cards or relaxing in front of the television. We have been with each other for graduations, weddings, and first jobs. We have been with each other as we have developed as athletes, and into adults. Continue reading

Finding Balance by Leona Emberson

Leona (on right) and her sighted guide (on left) racing to the finish line of a triathlon

Paratriathlete Leona Emberson (on right) discusses her journey in finding balance.

There are times in life when everyone needs a helping hand with one thing or another. When you have a disability, these times come more often, and the type of help needed can often be of a more personal nature. As children, it takes us longer to gain each step towards independence. We had to fight to overcome many obstacles and challenges to gain independence. Often we are told we cannot do it, or will never achieve independence.

From a young age I gained a reputation for being “stubbornly independent” I knew I could do it if I just tried hard enough, long enough. Even if it took me 10 times longer, I would do it. I felt I had to prove myself. I wanted to be like everyone else, so if my brother and friends could do it, I was determined I would do it too.  This resulted in a lot of frustration, some bruises and cuts, but most importantly this attitude gained me a sense of accomplishment. All of the small successes as a child gave me the confidence and determination to become an independent accomplished adult. Continue reading