There’s Nothing More Fun Than a Primary School Visit!

That is true for myself, O.J, the children and even in some cases the teachers. We visit primary school children a lot less frequently now that my work as a disability awareness trainer is based with transition year students in second level education. It’s interesting and more challenging, but I’d be lying if I said it was more fun. I’m lucky to have regular access to the school where I was a past pupil, and the staff are more than happy to have O.J in for a visit.

When my oldest nephew Jack was nine, he asked his teacher if I could take O.J into his class. The advantage of keeping a blog is that I can still remember
that day.
We’ve done hundreds of school visits since that day in January 2008.

Last week my seven-year-old nephew Danny excitedly rushed into my house after school, looking for a piece of paper and a pen. He wanted to write down the dates I would be free to come to visit his class with O.J this week. He talked to the teacher, and she was happy to have us in on Tuesday. It wasn’t just his class though, it was three classes of seven and eight year old’s, all in the P.E hall, with questions prepared as part of the previous night’s homework. They were as good as gold, considering there must have been about sixty of them in the room. O.J was very quiet too.
The questions came, and I was surprised how mature they all were.
How was he trained?
How does he know where to go?
How do I find the button to press to cross at the lights? Luckily O.J does this for me!
Who washes O.J?
They were surprised when I showed them the feeding cup that I use to measure OJ’s food. How does he look so healthy just eating that amount of food?
One girl wanted to know how do I always know where he is, and another asked what happens if I accidentally stood on his tail, at which point I had a chance to do my best dog whimpering impression!
They wanted to know if it was difficult to learn braille, do I watch TV, and why I don’t ware glasses.
They loved seeing how my phone works, particularly the ‘tap tap see’ app, and the talking colour detector. A few of them told me that their parents know me. Two of their parents were even in my class in school. That made me feel really old.

The teachers told me that they learned a lot. Pupils often ask questions that they themselves want to know, but are too afraid to ask. They took photographs, and asked Danny to present me with biscuits and sweets to say thanks, which was a lovely gift that I wasn’t expecting. I allowed the children to pet O.J on their way out of the hall, and everybody left happy.

My youngest nephew Harry started in the same school in September, so I decided to call into his class for a quick visit as I knew they’d be having lunch. I don’t know what I was thinking! Taking a dog into a classroom of 30 four year old’s, on their lunch-break when their usual teacher wasn’t around was a bit mad! Harry was delighted and surprised to see me, telling everybody who could hear him above the noise that I was his auntie and O.J was a guide dog. O.J was surrounded by a group of excited children hugging and petting him. I had to watch where his head was as some of them had sandwiches and bananas in their hands. They told me about their dogs and all the dogs they knew. One boy asked what age O.J was, and told me that his dog was ten. By the time we were leaving the class, his dog’s age had been changed to 100. We were probably only there for ten minutes but it felt like a lifetime!

When we came home, O.J played in the snow, before having a well deserved sleep. The weather’s been so bad since, and we haven’t been anywhere, but the school visit on Tuesday really made our week more fun.

New Year, New Changes

Happy new year! I’m assuming I can still say that when today is the 6th. Which reminds me, the Christmas tree really needs to come down tomorrow. I’ll be glad to put it away, since the dogs eating the berries even though they are artificial, and knocking decorations off was starting to get very annoying!

2015 is going to be a fun year, with two of my friends expecting babies and one getting married. I didn’t see much live music last year, but this year will be different. Having a concert to look forward to always cheers me up, and I have two planned for February already.
Last year I started yoga, and I’m hoping to start some new things in 2015. Flying the plane and doing other less adventurous things last year has inspired me to challenge myself more, and do things that are out of my comfort zone. I think I’ll naturally be forced to do a bit of that this year anyway, whether I like it or not.

As usual, I’m uncertain about work, and what’s going to happen in June when my contract is finished. I’m no closer to knowing what I want to do, or where to look for work. Some days it really annoys me, but I try not to let it. As long as I’m busy, I’ll eventually work it all out. I know I have to seriously think about what I want, rather than other people, which is what I’ve been doing recently.

The thing that freaks me out most of all is that by the end of 2015, I could be working with a new guide dog. Obviously I always knew that the time would come, but the fact that it could happen this year makes it all seem too quick. I don’t know if I’ll keep writing a blog when I start training, but I want to at least write more this year when O.J is still working. The dog and the blog started together, so they might as well finish, and we’ll see what happens after that.

Thanks to everyone who still reads, and the 4 or five regular commenters 🙂
I see a wordpress email in my inbox and try who guess who will have replied first! Those of you who blog yourselves, I’m looking forward to reading more of what you write in 2015.
I hope it’s another great year.