Blind sports: Goalball

Goalball2I enjoyed volunteering with the Vancouver Goalball on multiple occasions recently and I want to share goalball with you! I highly recommend checking out this sport if you’ve never heard of it or seen it. ¬†The athletes are fun to be around, and they’ll even blindfold you and let you try if you want to ūüôā

What is goalball?


  • Goalball is a team sport designed specifically for blind and visuallyGoalball impaired athletes. How cool is that a sport that was specifically created for people with disabilities, rather an adaptation of an existing sport
  • All athletes wear eyeshades so that everyone’s vision is completely blocked
  • The ball has bells inside it and players use the sound of the bell to track it position and movement.
  • Goalball athletes throw the ball that across the court into the opponents goal, and use their bodies to block the ball from going in their own net.

How was goalball invented?

  • It was created as a means of assisting the rehabilitation of visually impairedAmanda_Goalball WWII veterans.

What is something unique about goalball?

  • Goalball spectators must be silent so players can hear the bells in the ball. However, during breaks and when a a goal is scored, you cheer to your heart’s content.

Is goalball a Paralympic sport?

  • Yes! Tune in a Rio 2016 Paralympic goalball game this September and cheer on our national team! Goalball has been an official Paralympic sport since 1980.

Where can I see goalball up close in the Vancouver area?

  • Vancouver Goalball Club, which includes Canadian National Goalball team members that are going to the Paralympics (amazing!!), practices here in Vancouver.
  • You can send me an email at and I’ll get you in touch with them
  • Our club Vision Health Volunteers is courting the idea of asking VGC to do a demo on UBC Campus so if you’re interested and send me an email, this will be more likely to happen.

I’m interested in volunteering. What can I do?

  • Be a goal judge, ball retriever, game timers, high-ball judge, ¬†help set-up and take down the court for the Vancouver Goalball Club.¬†Practices are usually in the evening.

Thank you to John Tee for getting me interested in goalball! ¬†John plays for the Canadian National Goalball team. I befriended John volunteering at an outdoors camp for children that are blind and visually impaired and ever since he’s introduced me to different blind sports.

Supplemental information source: and the Vancouver Goalball club website

Brendan_GoalballJohn_Goalball John_Goalball2

Volunteer with what you’re passionate about

Pride Parade 2016
Volunteering with VocalEye at the Pride Parade!

Volunteer because you think you can make a meaningful contribution

Volunteer because you’re interested in immersing yourself into a community

Volunteer because you think you’ll learn from the people around you and the situations you’ll encounter

Volunteer because you think you’ll have fun. Volunteering shouldn’t be painful. Enjoy the time you put in!


I volunteered with people that are blind and visually impaired for my very first time with VocalEye. My experience with VocalEye spun my life in a new direction by inspiring in me a deep passion for vision health and providing service to those with visual impairments. VocalEye helped opened my eyes to the community of the people of the visually impaired. My prior misconceptions as a sighted person were left in the dust as I met individuals that were brilliant, driven and hilariously witty. Being visually impaired was just a difference in physical body. This physical difference had some things hard to do such as watch a parade. The first event I volunteered at the first parade described by VocalEye, the Vancouver Pride Parade. On the way to the event, the patron I was with was excited. She’d never been to a parade before. Why? She said parades are no fun when you’re blind because you can’t see what’s going on. These little things in life I’ve been taking for granted from watching the colours and glittery costumes of the Pride Parade, the jaw dropping beauty of the fireworks, watching the characters of play grimace and smile are things that losing your vision can make difficult to enjoy. Enjoying the beauty of fireworks is not essential to everyday life but don’t you think that everyone deserves the chance to enjoy the little things in life that make life beautiful. This is what VocalEye does by providing audio description of live theatre, arts and cultural events to make them more accessible for individuals of all ages who are blind and partially sighted. I see people smile and laugh from the sometimes humorous audio descriptions. I heard some patrons say some very touching thanks that the service VocalEye provides gives them a chance to experience what they can‚Äôt see. The people that make VocalEye run are incredible and fun and devoted to their mission. The lessons that the others involved in VocalEye have taught me are something small can make a big difference, everyone deserves equal respect and equal opportunity, and care deeply that all your patrons are having a good time. What VocalEye does is truly special.¬†VocalEye works towards a meaningful mission and makes a difference in peoples‚Äô lives. It would be valuable to support VocalEye to continue making a positive impact.¬†VocalEye’s mission is one that I wish to continue to volunteering my time to for as long as possible!

VocalEye spun my life in a new direction. The first time I volunteered with VocalEye, I would not have guessed that I would be volunteering again for the same event that I started with (the Pride Parade) after spending the morning planning the budget and planning awareness-boosting events for the club I started called Vision Health Volunteers, and after the Pride parade, watching a friend practice goalball (a sport designed for individuals that are visually impaired)? A friend whose team I played blind hockey with the day before and that I was a camp counselor with at a camp for children that are blind or visually impaired the week before. ¬†The volunteer coordinator that I met at camp was also on that blind hockey team and came for audio description at the Pride Parade. A girl I met at blind hockey also came for audio description at the parade and met me again later at goalball. A community that was once so foreign to me has become smaller. I wouldn’t have predicted that vision health would be something that would become so important to me. Supporting the effort to make arts and cultural events accessible was what I thought was a nice goal before, is an inkling of the ambition I’ve grown the more I’ve volunteered with VocalEye and got involved with other organizations such as the CNIB and Blind Beginnings. One of our big projects in the works with the Vision Health Volunteers club aims to break some misconceptions towards those with visual impairments and to spread the message that anyone has the capability to achieve and succeed regardless of visual ability. Did I know that volunteering would inspire a deep passion in ¬†me for vision health and allow me to meet such incredible and fun people? No, but I’m very grateful that it did.

So what are you waiting for? Get yourself out and involved in the world around you!


More clinical time please?

This morning, I was given a free morning instead of clinical. BAM I realized that I would rather volunteer in the clinic or shadow one of the fabulous nurses than have a day off. I’d rather be in clinic over chilling at home, over extra sleep, ¬†even over enjoying the beautiful sunshine outside. More clinical time please?

I love the flow of new faces and learning bits of clients’ lives: people sharing snippets of their lives that make them happiest (often regarding their children and/or grandchildren) or snippets of the challenges they’ve overcome. Something that I’ve learned about myself is that I like variety in my work. What I liked about the eye clinic was that clients have a wide range in age and conditions. I also know that I enjoy constant interaction with people, as long I’m not selling a product to them which I’ve learned that I did NOT enjoy doing in the past. In other words, I like the interactions and relationships built in the healthcare provider- client context.

What was specific to this clinic that I thought was fun was that you get to see the same clients more than once, and in some cases, you get to work with members of the same family so you get to tell the grandma that you saw her granddaughter yesterday.

The more I learn, the more questions I have.¬†I’m so curious about the science behind the exams that are done. After a while, I noticed patterns such as if particular tools are used, the Dr likely detected a cataract, but have absolutely no clue how he knew. ¬†That’s what years of schooling and years and year of experience on the job are for.

My preceptor yesterday asked me if ¬†I could see myself in this environment doing his job for the rest of my life. I don’t know if I’d want to do exactly his job because I’m hesitant about the constant travel away from family. But yes,¬†I do know that I really love being in clinic and want to spend more in clinic. I’d like to doing a job that allows me to constantly interact with people.


  • Wear comfortable shoes if you know that you’ll be standing for hours.
  • Bring a lunch that can be eaten very quickly.
  • But when you’re busy, you likely won’t feel hungry and will only realize that you should probably eat when someone else asks if you’ve eaten and points out how late past normal mealtime it is.
  • I generally try to avoid caffeine but I succumbed to having half a cup of free coffee.

SPPH 408

Allow your old glasses to improve the sight of others! April 5-8

glasses_donationWhat: Own glasses that you’ve outgrown or no longer match your prescription? Drop off your old glasses to save another’s sight! Collected eyeglasses will be donated to people in need. Accepting prescription glasses, reading glasses, and sunglasses. Children‚Äôs glasses are especially needed so feel free to contribute your glasses from way back or your younger sibling or child’s glasses.¬†Thank you for contributing to this mission of saving the sight of others!!

When: Tuesday April 5 – Friday April 8 Collection bin will be there all day. Club representatives to answer your questions Tues/Thurs 11 am – 2 pm . MWF 11am – 1pm and 2-4 pm.

Where: Our booth in the Nest. ¬†Anyone interested in donating that doesn’t attend UBC: feel free to pass your glasses donations through someone else who goes to UBC or email me at and I can try to arrange a pick-up from you.¬†Thank you for contributing to this mission of saving the sight of others!!

Who: Vision Health Volunteers!   Come hang out and ask any questions about where the glasses are going to, about our club or about the volunteer opportunities.

What else:¬†While you stop by, pick up Vision Health Volunteer’s pamphlet containing a compilation of available summer volunteer opportunities. When you have a lot of free time, give back to your community through LOTS of other meaningful and fun volunteer opportunities!!! Some examples:
– APRIL Foundation Fighting Bliness Comic Vision
– JUNE Foundation Fighting Bliness Cycle for Sight
– JULY Blind Beginnings summer camp for children with visual impairments, fundraising committee, newsletter design, and social media
– JUNE/JULY Assisting with VocalEye at the Celebrations of light, Bard on the Beach, the Pride Parade and more.
– SUMMER/NEXT FALL many opportunities with the Canadian National Institute of Blindness

For details, pick up our pamphlet for what each role involves and how to volunteer with us.

Your pamphlet will be made by the fabulous Alyssa. Poster made by the fabulous Misaki.

What’s on your reading list?

I’m a reading addict. I literally just got a new book today and finished it in one sitting. ( I’m going to try out¬†David Larson’s techniques and maybe make a post reviewing whether I think they work for undergrads!)

Books I want to read:

Mountains beyond Mountains – By Paul Farmer founder of the medical humanitarian organization Partners in Health, human rights activist and Harvard medical school professor. He began a public health non-profit¬†while¬† in medical school. He is the epitome of “let’s put saving lives and making a difference to the world first”. #idol #goals

When Breath Becomes Air¬† – a new father/young neurosurgeon faces cancer and questions what is the meaning of life. (and he passed away while writing this book ūüôĀ ¬† )

Go back to the library to retrieve Oliver Sack’s “The Mind’s Eye” that I never finished!

ALL the Atul Gawande  РI liked both Complications and the Checklist Manifesto.

Try a Abraham Verghese.


Re-read Basho’s haikus.

That book of Chinese poetry that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while now…

Russian literature? I’m going to see the play Onegin on Sunday and realized that I haven’t read much Russian literature. I tried Anna Kareina in the past but put it down. Time to try again?

EMMA ¬† – Why haven’t I read Emma yet??


What’s on your reading list?

Did you notice?

Tuesday night 6: 15 PM Did you notice happiness? Did you notice the janitor playing basketball by himself? Did you notice one or both or neither? He was a wiry man whose head of hair was almost completely silver gray. His bucket of cleaning supplies just off to the side of the basketball hoop in front of Ladha. Aquamarine tight-fitting gloves on both hands, he was shooting a basketball into the hoop repeatedly, tirelessly, and gracefully. Yes, gracefully. Like just any other student in a rush to get to the bus to a meeting, I was speed-walking with my hands stuffed into my jacket pockets. I had a sheet of notes to scrutinize but I had fortunately kept that stuffed into my pockets until the bus. So, when I rushed out from Ladha, I witnessed the elegance of the man playing basketball. I’d seen him before. He normally had a stern expression but as he put the ball hoop after hoop, he had a light smile brightening his face. He looked so happy.

Happy, that doesn’t seem as showy a word as ecstatic or thrilled. Happy, a calm, satisfied happy that was beautiful to witness. A happy that induced a calm happy in me.

So, did you notice neither, one or both?

If neither, you probably were on your phone, maybe studying, maybe texting, or very focused on getting the next destination, or thinking deeply about things. I don’t blame you. I do all of these all the time. You were probably doing something good. But for fun, the next time you walk out and about, stuff your phone into your pocket and take in the evening view.

Maybe you just noticed the man playing basketball but missed the details. Once you choose to be aware, you’ll start noticing everything.

We’re not the only ones observing. The man also paused, scored another basket, and made a brief moment of eye contact. Then, he smiled with just a tiny extra burst of energy and tipped his head as if to say, “This is great.” I nodded back. And then he returned to his basketball. Who knows what else there is this story? What else do basketball mean to him? ¬†I didn’t know. I’ll probably never know because I was only meant to witness that beauty of that moment before picking my pace back up and continuing on my way, on my own journey of life.

You never know what you’ll notice if you look.

Cute song of the day! (Vision related!)

But in real life,¬†please don’t follow someone around without telling her or grab her arm like he did at the beginning at the video. Recall my earlier post about¬†Things you should know about people with vision loss.

Back to the music: I love the pure sentiment this song conveys! (and the totally adorable relationship and doggy in the video). I’ll make this another goal: to live by the principle that loving someone is as simple as constantly telling and showing them that they’re incredibly special to you and making them smile.

Continue reading “Cute song of the day! (Vision related!)”

Molly Burke & Retinitis Pigmentosa

I was inspired to get involved with volunteering with individuals with vision loss when I heard Molly Burke speak in person at a Microsoft coding workshop. This Youtube video that she made is closest to the speech she made. I highly suggest you watch it to learn about growing up and living with vision loss.

10 Things you should know about people with vision loss

  1. According to CNIB, half a million Canadians are estimated to be living with significant vision loss that impacts their quality of life.  More than 50,000 of us will lose our sight each YEAR.
  2. Most of the legally blind in Canada are NOT totally blind.
  3. Not all legally blind individuals will carry a white cane. Some individuals will carry a white cane just as an identification marker, not for navigation.
  4. If you see an individual with a white cane waiting at an intersection, do not grab him or her by the arm and drag them across the street. How would you feel if a stranger did that to you? For all he or she knows, you could be kidnapping them. If someone looks lost, ask first. But generally, people are very capable of getting around themselves.
  5. It is totally okay to use expressions such as look, see or watch out when talking to someone with a visual impairment. It’s awkward when it’s obvious that you’re avoiding visual verbs.
  6. Children who are congenitally blind are not born with more acute senses of hearing, smell and touch.
  7. Sight is the primary sense involved in learning about the environment. That is why it’s sometimes difficult for a child with visual impairment to understand¬†some concepts such as riding a skateboard until he or she touches a skateboard and tries riding one first.
  8. A person whose vision deteriorates as a result of certain eye condition does not necessarily need to limit reading or watching TV to prevent further damage to his/her sight.
  9. Most children who have been visually impaired all their lives do not mourn the loss of their sight.
  10. There are different versions of Braille. Books, signs, menus and other materials are often written in a version of Braille that includes contractions. There are dot patterns that represent common letter groupings such as “ing” to save space.

If you’re interested in learning more, I highly suggest you look on¬†CNIB‘s website.

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