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Mentorshipâ

Editor's Note: The following is adapted from â

Whether blind people--or people generally--reach their full potential and attain the career and life goals commensurate with their skills and passions depends on a combination of belief and desire. They must believe truly that they can attain the goal. This belief sets the desired goal in the realm of possibility, making it something that could happen, rather than something that could never happen. However, in order to turn that possibility into a reality, a person must have enough desire to achieve the goal so that he or she is willing to put forth the amount of effort needed--the time, sweat, and tears to climb over whatever obstacles lie between the person and the goal.

One might argue that you can't teach desire. This is true. You can't make a person want something; however, you can remove the fear that often blocks the path of that desire. This can be achieved by mentoring. Having a real, live, breathing person telling you about the raise he or she just got, the chemistry exam he or she just wrote, taking his or her three-year-old to see Santa at the mall, or building a new deck on the house, can put all kinds of ideas in a person's head.

But not only can a mentor put an idea in a mentee's head, that mentor can explain in detail what it took to accomplish those goals.

So many misconceptions about the day-to-day life of a blind person are loose in the world that it is impossible to know which particular set has found its way into the mentee's mind. Some of these misconceptions might seem to the mentee so silly or so particular that he or she will never articulate them. They can often mutate into abstract fears that prevent a blind person from letting desire propel him or her toward the goal.

The mentee might be thinking: "I would really love that job, but what if I go into the interview and they see I have a white cane, and they tell me the job has been filled? I don't think I could deal with that."

However, when a mentor can say to a mentee, "Yeah, I had twenty interviews before I got my job, and some days it was really hard to keep trying, but in the end it was all worthwhile," or "The professor really didn't want a blind guy in her class, but this is what I told her... fears about problems he or she might face are replaced by real situations with real solutions.

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians Mentorship Program matches experienced blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted adults with children, youth and adults who may be struggling with their vision loss. If you think your life experiences might help another blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted individual face their fears and go for their goal, we would like to hear from you.

A mentor application form can be found online at www.blindcanadians.ca (opens in a new window) under the programs link, or you can call 1-800-561-4774 and leave your name and phone number, indicating that you would like to know more about becoming a mentor.

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