I was a very happy kid growing up, even though my condition was discovered at 5 years old, as I had trouble seeing things other 5 year-olds could. I was not bothered, as my condition is Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) – Central Vision Loss, which means it’s progressive. Thus at a young age, my vision was still functional. I continued going to a mainstream school and pursued activities like swimming and violin. Looking back, I realised that I never accepted my condition, but tried acting “normal” because I was fearful I would be socially segregated.
The big shift in my life happened last year, when I started having problems seeing things I could usually see, knocking into objects and people. Upon a doctor visit, I was told my condition was deteriorating rapidly. I began falling into a depression. However, I recalled the support I’ve been receiving from family and friends, so I made a commitment that I was not going to ignore my disability any longer, but accept that it is a part of me. I worked to overcome the anger and fear, and be reborn. I am now a more accepting and happy person.
As a dog lover, I thought guide dogs were a match made in heaven for me. Having extremely poor day vision, despite being an active person, I find it mentally exhausting and frightening to travel out. A white cane also has limitations, such as only detecting an obstacle, but not how to go around it. As someone with a very busy schedule as well, it is hard to form a deep connection with another person, making it quite lonely. A guide dog will overcome all that, and more. The safety and companionship a guide dog brings is indescribable, giving my caregivers a peaceful mind as well, especially because I’m a female.
With my guide dog, help from Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd (GDS) and your support, I will be empowered to continue pursuing my aspirations: competing in swimming for Singapore, finishing my performance diploma in music and furthering my education. I want my platform to inspire others - You can have a thousand reasons to tell you why you can’t, but you just need one reason why you can, and that’s because you want to.
I am a Nanyang Polytechnic Graduate, a Team Singapore Swimmer and a Violinist. My name is Sophie Soon, and I hope you will join me to build up one another, because we’re part of this community together. Donate to the International Guide Dog Day (IGDD) Campaign by 30 Jun 2019 here: www.giving.sg/gds/igdd2019, so I can receive my guide dog, and take that first step.