(Full Transcript Below)
October 11 is White Cane Day in Minnesota and the Blindness community came out strong to support the awareness of the White Cane.
Speakers shared the history of White Cane day and others talked about the freedom and independence the white cane brings to them. The Minnesota State Academy for the Blind shared their voices and sang aloud in the Capital’s Rotundra.
With the support of the local Lions Clubs, MSAB, NFB of MN and Blind, Inc. the White Cane Day event was a great event with a lot of participation. From joining in on the song to marching in the walk from the St. Paul Capital to the St. Paul Cathedral and bac, participants chatted and talked while blazing through the chilly and windy Autumn day in Minnesota. As Carol Pankow put it, “Rain, sleet or snow, we do it and the weather doesn’t stop us. We just keep moving and grooving with life.
You can find out more about MSAB on the web.
Check out the NFB of MN on the web at www.NFBMn.org
And be sure to see what opportunities and events are happening at Blind, Inc. on the web at https://www.blindinc.org
And check out your local Lions Club and see what they are doing in your community.
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What Does White Cane Day Mean to You? Voices at the Capital 2018
So, on behalf of governor Mark Dayton, I have a proclamation.
Hi, I am Alycia Howard.
My name’s Brian Daniels. I’m the representative from the Faribault area.
My name is Holly Nordmeyer. I’m from the Minnesota State Academies.
So, what does White Cane Day mean to me? My name is Senator John Jasinski. I’m from district 24 where the Minnesota Academies have a facility. So, I believe it’s important to raise the awareness on White Cane Day and what it is and making sure that the people with disabilities, blind disabilities are safe on their streets in a safe area so they can walk and navigate through our communities.
My name is Trume and I feel like coming to White Cane Day means a lot because I know that I … Although I’ve been blind for a really long time, I can still use my resources to my advantage.
My name is Kristina Tinason. I am a teacher for the blind and visually impaired and I come today to celebrate equality and just awareness in general. White Cane Safety Day.
My name is Quinn Hobble. I come to White Cane Day because being blind myself, I have seen just how much the long white cane gives me freedom and being a contract worker for the state of Minnesota teaching cane travel, I get to see how much freedom the long white cane gives each and every one of my students on a daily basis.
My name is Sheila Koenig. I’m the transition coordinator at State Services for the Blind and I come to White Cane Day because it’s a gathering of blind people from all over the state and we’re here to show that we have a voice and a presence. I think it’s amazing to kick off the program at the state capital, which is a place that really symbolizes people’s voices.
Back in 1928 I believe it was, we passed a resolution that said that we were approving a new travel device for getting safely across the street. And that new travel device was a whistle. The idea was you’d come up to the curb and you’d pull out your whistle and you would blow on your whistle until somebody heard you and came out and you would say, can you please help me across the street?
I’m Eva. White Cane Day is spreading awareness about blindness and the use of the canes and who we are and that we are out there.
My name’s Brian Daniels. I’m the representative from the Faribault area. I’ve been in the legislature for four years and I have to tell you, this White Cane event I think is the best of all our functions that we have. It’s showing that people are not disabled if they’re blind or disabled in different way, and I love that. I love the school they have down in Faribault. They do a good job for all of our kids and I’m just proud to represent this area.
I’m Carol Pankow, Director of State Services for the Blind. Well, White Cane Day, I think, and I love it especially today because it’s crappy out, the weather’s crazy, but it’s just representative of what people go through every single day. Whether it’s rain, sleet, snow, beautiful weather, there are people who are blind, visually impaired, deaf-blind, all around this country going out, doing their thing. They’re working, they’re going to school, they’re making it happen and they don’t just stay in ’cause the weather got bad. You can’t. You gotta keep moving and grooving with your life. So, I just think this day is really representative of all things that … It’s like another day, but it symbolizes what blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind people stand for and that they’re able to go out and move around with confidence and do their thing and live their life.
I’m Greg Smith and I’m here with a group of students from South High School and we’re coming just to celebrate the freedom that the white canes provide the students and their independent. We think this is a great event.
My name is Nick. I come to White Cane Day because it’s nice to see that there are other people that are visually impaired like me.
Even though we had this idea in mind that it was now National White Cane Safety Day on October 15th, the public still wasn’t always cool with it. You’d walk into a shop that sold glassware with your cane and you could be kicked out or you’d walk into a restaurant with your guide dog and you could be kicked out and so we started fighting across all 50 states to make sure that we had the right to participate.
Hi, my name is Nadia and I’m a student at BLIND, Inc. What White Cane Day means to me is that this is a day of pride of us using our white cane. Our white cane shows that we can go anywhere and we’re not scared to do anything out in the public. It’s a symbol for people to know that we’re out here doing our thing just like they are. I love using my white cane every day. I have so much pride in using it and I’m so glad that today we get to celebrate a day like this.
Raise your canes.
Oh, that’d be cool. I’m open to that.
Yeah. I think today is really just good about for the public awareness of people …
I know, yeah.
There’s a lot of people in the general public …
They don’t understand it.
But no. They don’t know anyone who’s blind, so they’re not really exposed to it. So, I think today is just really good … It’s a good day to just, yeah. Kind of makeup. This is one person.
It’s like a chance to stand out from the crowd and understand that even though we’re visually impaired or blind, we can still do whatever we set our mind to do.
My name is Anya Swenson and I come here to raise awareness about safety and about this important issue.
Because that white came is not only a symbol of who we are, but it is at the core of what makes us independent.
Hi, like John Davis said, my name is Josie Lion. I found about … My disability about four years ago in Oklahoma and sadly Oklahoma doesn’t have a lot of support, so I didn’t really get my cane until about two years ago when I moved here. So, when I was in Oklahoma I was afraid and scared ’cause I didn’t have anything to help me figure out what to do. So, I was not social. I was not getting good things. I was just … I just lived in my own little room, kind of like a hermit crab. When I got here to Minnesota, I got my cane. I felt more positive and I felt more social. I finally went to my first party. So, finally did clubs after school. I finally made friends and actually did things with them and I wouldn’t be able to if it wasn’t for my white cane.
Hi. I’m Kristen Orien, state specialist for the blind and visually impaired for the Minnesota Department of Education and I come to White Cane Day to celebrate independent travel.
Hello, my name is Terry Wilding. I’m not blind, but I am deaf. What I see for White Cane Day means what we can do to spread awareness about what our students need. The State Academy is what the blind community needs. How we can better advocate for more legislation and changes within our communities as well as changing the culture so that way people are aware of us and willing to work with us from this point forward.
My names Brent. I’m a new student. I’ve only attended BLIND, Inc. for about a month now.
Oh, good for you.
I am from Hastings, Minnesota. White Cane Day means to me that it’s a chance for everybody out in the big city and everywhere just to understand that there are visually impaired and blind people out there who deserve to be respected for their blindness, treated fairly just as anybody else and when it comes to street crossings and everything, they’re just real willing to …
At least slow down a little bit, right?
At least slow down or give us the opportunity to cross. Yeah, yeah.
Blind pedestrians have the right of way. Any person operating a motor vehicle in this state shall bring such motor vehicle to a stop and give the right away at any intersection of any street, avenue, alley, or other public highway to a blind pedestrian who was carrying a cane, predominantly white, metallic in color, or with or without a red tip or using a guide dog.
My name is Jenny Pelletier. I’m the music therapist at MSAB and we’re excited to be here with all these other folks from Minnesota and celebrate today.
Dan Wenzel. I’m the Executive Director of Blindness: Learning in New Dimensions, BLIND, Incorporated. Love to be here. I think that White Cane Day means to me independence, but also a chance for us to get together as blind people and show the capabilities that we have. So, look forward to getting out there and walking with my friends.
Beth. I come to White Cane Day because I work with two students that are legally blind and it gives me an opportunity to see other students and how capable they can be.
Hi, I am Alycia Howard and to me White Cane Day means a celebration of independence and a celebration of how the long white cane has impacted not only the blind community but how sighted people perceive the blind community and just the positive light that White Cane Day sheds on that.
Hi, this is John Davis. I’m the Director at the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind and what White Cane Day means to me, it’s an opportunity to share and bring forth the importance of white cane awareness and for people to understand that when they’re out driving that they need to be aware of individuals that have either a white cane or a guide dog and that they follow the rules of law, which means that they provide the right away for those individuals so that they can travel safely and those in the vehicles can travel safely as well. It also means that … For our students in our academy, that white cane means that freedom to be able to get out and just participate in life like everybody else.
My name is Isaac. I’m currently an intern student at BLIND, Inc. I’m student teaching there, hoping to obtain NOMC, which is the National Orientation and Mobility Certification. I think it’s really great thing that they do here and it’s good to get everyone out in the community.
My name is Holly Nordmeyer. I’m from the Minnesota State Academies and I’m the Orientation Mobility Instructor and I’m also a teacher for the blind and visually impaired. Well, White Cane Day, for me, it’s independence. It’s recognition for our students. I mean, our students are a minority in the population overall. To me, it’s a time for them to get together and meet other people that are cane travelers and travel at whatever level of skill that they have and show off those skills and let all the drivers out there know that there are white canes and to let the public know what the white cane law means. It means a lot to me.
A lot of people talk about safety, but for me it also means opportunity. An opportunity to explore the world. An opportunity to get out there with our canes and our dogs and make a difference.
I’m Betsy Shallbetter. I’m a teacher at the Academy for the Blind. White Cane Day means a whole lot to me as it has made a difference in my community. Whenever we do the walk in Faribault, Minnesota people start to pay attention.
For me, it means participation. A chance through action to show the abilities of blind people as we go and live the lives we want.
My name is Brittany Thomforde. I am the Director of Special Ed at the State Academies and this is my first White Cane Day.
My first. I’ve never participated in a White Cane Day.
I’m really excited to see how this event works and see all the students and adults and teachers and staff and I’m excited to cheer everybody on. I’m the first one down at the end of the steps today, so I’m excited to do that.
Oh, so they get a job for ya?
I have a job. I chose to volunteer today.
There you go.
So, on behalf of Governor Mark Dayton. I have a proclamation.
Hi, I’m Samantha and I think that the white cane is very important because to so many people it’s such a symbol of independence.
Whereas there are estimated 63,000 Minnesotans who are blind or visually impaired, many of them who’ve traveled with white canes.
I know, for me, I’ve been blind my whole life. I’ve never not used a cane. I know a lot of kids sort of reject it and don’t wanna be seen with it, but to me, I never felt safe traveling without one.
And whereas the need for the orientation and mobility services and White Cane Safety awareness will continue to grow and remain vital to the educational, vocational and recreational needs of all Minnesotans who are blind or visually impaired.
To me, it’s always been a big deal. My mom is blind as well. I was using a cane from the time I could walk. I was walking around conventions and stuff when I was two with the canes.
And whereas the Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota Public Schools support educational outcomes for all children.
Always been something I have had and I think it’s something that it’s important that people realize it’s sort of a symbol of independence rather than a stigmatized symbol of needing assistance. I think there’s an important distinction there.
Now therefore, I, John Jasinski, on behalf of Governor Mark Dayton, do hereby proclaim Thursday, October 11th, 2018 as White Cane Safety Awareness Day.
Our students at the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind have been working on composing a song in the last few weeks. Many of them have had the opportunity to put some thoughts together about what White Cane Day means to them. We talked about what it was like to use a white cane for the first time. We read the white cane law and had a little bit of discussion about that.
So, as you walk today, as you stride out around the Capitol, down the streets, be proud of your white cane. Tap that white cane and let everybody know that we are here, we are not going anywhere and we are proud of who we are. Thank you ladies and gentlemen.
All right. Hello everyone. I’m Kristen [Oien, I would like to send out a special thank you to Holly Nordmeyer and Michelle Gip for helping arrange this awesome day. So, let’s give them all a round of applause. I’d also like to thank all of our volunteers who will be along the route if you have some …