Mildura Weekly : Friday June 26 2015 Vol 9 No 33
NEWS 13 FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 2015 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU sight rarely appreciate what a precious gift it is, or how we would cope if suddenly it was at once a sobering and inspiring privilege... no room for pity here! • From previous page “My father and Krister are good friends, and I had been wanting to come back to Australia,” Louise ex- plained her presence in Mildura dur- ing the middle of winter. “I suppose it’s not cold for some- one from Sweden though,” I ven- tured thinking of tall, snowcapped mountains, blizzards and frozen lakes. “Oh, I have felt the cold since being here,” Louise said. Unlike her homeland, she says, we are not as well prepared for the cold. For start- ers most Mildura homes lack central heating, and are nowhere near as well insulated as those she is used to. So why come in our winter? “It is our summer break from school back at home,” she explains. The Year 11 student attends Nynäshamn High School, a regular school with one concession – she has an aide to help her. “There are no specialist blind schools in Sweden,” Louise explains. The reason becomes obvious when she explains that she was just one of seven people born blind, or with a severe vision impairment, in Sweden in 1997. Louise wasn’t born blind, but her sight has never been good. “I was never full-sighted,” she says. What sight she had deteriorated from an early age, and by six-years- old she was blind. But she has retained the memo- ry of some things from those early years. Colours for example. “I know colours,” Louise tells me, and she can visualise them when someone is explaining an object to her. Since going blind, Louise has made it her mission not to let her disability stop her from doing any- thing. With the support of her fam- ily, including brother Jacob, 16, and friends, there is not much the teen- ager is not willing to try, or hasn’t tried it seems. For starters she skis...downhill!, races a tandem bicycle and rides horses! In fact, she has been skiing as long as she can remember, and mod- estly admits she is pretty good at it. She, like most Swedish young- sters, started skiing from the time she could walk! “My balance is better than many other blind people,” she says, and that helps. Louise puts her good balance down to her skiing from a young age, as well as her bicycle and horse riding. She skis, most often with her fa- ther, with the pair of them linked by a rope. “Dad skis behind me, and di- rects me,” she said. “He tells me to “Go left, or “Go right,” she says. Louise also likes to work out to the gym, play the piano, and sail with her family. She reads a lot, sings, and has worked on air at her local radio sta- tion. In fact, when the Mildura Weekly caught up with Louise this week, she had just completed some on- air time at Mildura’s HOTFM com- munity radio station. HOTFM’s Bernard Denner said it took Louise no time at all to set- tle in behind the microphone, or to find her way about the station. “She’s fitted right in,” he said. Her time at HOTFM was in- dicative of the active lifestyle she has maintained since arriving in Mildura. She has met a lot of peo- ple, remarking that an inordinate number of them have been named ‘Chris.’ She has had a sing with a local choir group, pedalled about town on a borrowed tandem bicycle with Krister, and visited the Vision Aus- tralia headquarters here. And, she is planning a special meeting next Monday night to con- nect with young blind people in our region. To be staged from 7pm next Monday night at The Christie Cen- tre in 12th Street, Mildura*, Louise explained that it would take the form of a ‘meet and greet,’ and that she was really looking forward to it. • Continued next page • HEAD DOWN: Louise during a ‘spin’ fitness class at Mildura Waves this week.
Friday June 19 2015 Vol 9 No 32
Friday July 3 2015 Vol 9 No 34