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Running Clinic For The Blind

Hospital UTPL by Dirección de Comunicación UTPL is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

A local clinic is helping people with visual impairments increase their mobility by walking and running with a sighted guide. The program is a partnership between Mary Free Bed Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports and the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital has helped create a reputation in West Michigan for adaptive sports and recreation, as it introduces its new clinic which partners individuals with visual impairments with sighted guides to run and walk, the group hopes to increase accessibility.

““It will increase people’s self confidence because we will understand we can participate. We can be involved we can do things,” Cheris Austin said.”

That’s Cheris Austin who works as a client advocate. She says the clinic is a way to help individuals who are visually impaired feel comfortable in accessing community resources, as well as helping sighted people gain another perspective.

“I know the guide who I was working with was learning a lot. He learned a lot about they way I accessed things like my iphone.”

The clinic is a partnership with the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Participants are paired one-on-one with sighted guides over a three-week period, building trust as they learn about the logistics and techniques of assisted running.

For Rehab Counseling and Vision Rehab Therapy Student, Robert Parsons, it’s a unique experience, as he got to work on and participate in the program.

“It’s one thing to create a great project it’s another thing to create it and be a recipient of the service you created and that’s the part I think that’s most rewarding is being able to get out there on the trials with my private guide and powerwalk all over the place,” Parsons said.

Parsons says he hopes to continue to create equal opportunities for the visually impaired community.