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Blind hiking group conquers the Grouse Grind
Each visually impaired hiker was paired up with a sighted guide for the hike. The visually impaired partner holds their guide's arm to feel how their body prepares for the steps ahead. (CTV)
Nine kids who are blind or visually impaired summited the Grouse Grind on Sunday with help from mentors and guides.
The hike was called Do the Grind Blind and it helped the kids convince themselves and others that blind people can do pretty much everything a sighted person can.
"When you have a disability, people often decide your limits for you. And often they're wrong," said Shawn Marsolais, executive director and founder of Blind Beginnings who organized the hike.
The teens trained for the Grind for four months, doing smaller practice hikes that increased in difficulty.
Marsolais says it's one of the most physically and mentally challenging things she's ever done—and she's competed in the Paralympics.
"Every step is different," she said, explaining how communication between a hiker and their guide is crucial.
"If you don't have the physical fitness on top of that you can get easily discouraged at just how difficult and challenging it is every step of the way," she said.
Christina Duncan is a recreation therapist that came on the hike as a sighted guide for the kids.
The nine youth were paired up with nine guides to help them navigate the climb.
"As a guide my partner is absolutely relying on me. I'm verbally cueing my partner on how many steps are coming up and how high they are," Duncan said.
She explained that her blind partner holds onto her elbow to feel how her body reacts to the steps ahead. He'll also use his cane to feel the terrain.
The organizers want people to know that with the right supports, people with disabilities can achieve what they set their mind to.
"We can do basically everything a sighted person can," Marsolais said. "We just might do it a little bit differently."