Being Guided to Success
Fadzie,19 from Plymouth, is planning for university, work and life as an independent young adult, all with her first guide dog, Terbie.
Originally from Zimbabwe, Fadzie moved to the UK at the age of five with her mum and older brother and sister. School in the UK was going great and Fadzie was thriving. However, in year 4 she started to notice her eye sight deteriorating and thought she might need glasses. A year later and after further investigation she was diagnosed with glaucoma and registered as visually impaired.
Throughout the rest of school Fadzie had learning support assistants in her lessons and achieved excellent grades at GCSE. Going on to study for A Levels, she was predicted high grades and worked extremely hard but unfortunately did not achieve what she wanted.
Looking back at her year 12 and 13 Fadzie recalls the struggle she had with the workload. ‘School was fast paced and I was struggling to keep up in the lessons, I had to take work home and catch up in my own time. It made me think that I might not cope with university, that’s when I decided that I needed to go to RNC.’
In year 13 Fadzie was matched with guide dog, Terbie. ‘Moving away to a residential college can be scary but she made me more confident about going. Terbie learns routes quicker than I do and she is so chilled out in busy areas and it helps make me be more relaxed.’
Fadzie started at The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) in September and has since been undertaking mobility training to learn routes into town, including public transport. ‘The mobility training at RNC is really good. The teacher doing my training is also a guide dog user so he really understands our needs. There are also a lot of other students and staff with guide dogs at College, they have given me help and advice and we even go for walks together.’
On top of improving her mobility and independent living skills, Fadzie is also studying A Level Psychology and A Level Maths and is currently being predicted grades A* and A. ‘Support at RNC is so different to school. The class size is small so I never fall behind, I never feel rushed to try and keep up.’
So, what does the future the hold for Fadzie and Terbie? ‘I would like to go to University College London to study Psychology. I have done some work experience and volunteer mentoring with young people and I really enjoy it. I want to be in a position where I can help people, and I love London.’
Life in the city might be daunting for some, but Fadzie is not fazed; ‘Terbie has made things so much easier and more relaxing. With a long cane it was hard to concentrate all the time, but now I can trust Terbie to spot things. I am able to relax and I don’t need to worry.’
‘Coming to RNC with Terbie is a great stepping stone. We are able to experience living independently but with support from people that understand visual impairment, it’s really changed my life.’