CNIB ambassador raises awareness to support her siblings and others living with vision loss

Lida- headshot2.jpgBorn in Renous, Miramichi along with eight siblings, Lida Currie has many fond memories of her childhood. She can still remember skating on the pond, sledding and playing on their homemade swing. Growing up in such a large family, Lida always had an empathetic personality and loved helping others. 

For several years, Lida and some of her siblings noticed issues with their vision. Their parents took them for regular eye exams, but it wasn’t until Lida was 36 years old that an ophthalmologist officially diagnosed her with a degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Her ophthalmologist mentioned that the condition was genetic and asked if anyone else in her family was having problems with their vision. After being tested, results showed that four of nine children in Lida’s family had various stages of RP. “When this happened, I wasn’t thinking about my diagnosis at all,” says Lida. “My empathy kicked in and all I could think about was how I could help my siblings.” Lida contacted CNIB for more information and soon began volunteering with the organization. 

Over the years, Lida noticed that her RP was progressing as she began to lose more of her peripheral vision. She was often bumping into thing and had a very hard time seeing at night. In 1992, Lida’s ophthalmologist told her that she couldn’t drive anymore. At this time, Lida lived out in the country and had to call taxis or find drives into the city for work. “This was very difficult for me because I was such an independent person,” says Lida. Shortly after, she started a new job which allowed her to work from home. “Although this was one way of adapting to the situation, doing everything in the same location with no one around was sometimes very lonely and isolating.” Lida’s siblings with RP also experience similar challenges. Three of her brothers are small business owners, one of whom owns a towing business. A few years back, he also lost his license due to his vision loss. Together, with the help of CNIB, they continue to work through these kinds of challenges.  

In 2005, Lida was volunteering as a client ambassador for CNIB’s Adjustment to Vision Loss group. One of the program sessions included an introduction to the white cane and CNIB’s Orientation and Mobility (O&M) program. As Lida wasn’t a white cane user at this time, she thought to herself, “How can I be promoting something I don’t use?” With this, Lida got her first white cane and began working with CNIB’s O&M specialist.  “I never thought I needed a cane as I seemed to get by without one,” says Lida. “But when I started using it and having O&M lessons, I noticed a big change in my travel skills.” CNIB also provided assistance to Lida by helping her secure large screen monitors and magnification software through its Assistive Technology services, helping her significantly in her work and studies. “I initially contacted CNIB because I wanted to help others,” says Lida. “Not only was I able to do this, but I also benefitted tremendously from the organization. CNIB helped me regain my true independence and learn that it’s alright to ask for help when you need it.”

As Lida continued to see how beneficial CNIB programs and services were, she shared this information with her family. She encouraged her siblings with vision loss to get a CNIB identification card and begin scheduling appointments with the various specialists. Today, Lida volunteers for CNIB by raising awareness and funds for the organization, but most of all, she continues to act as a liaison between CNIB and individuals living with vision loss – particularly her siblings. “Anytime they have questions about something, they call me and I provide them with the answers through CNIB. It’s a great feeling!” 

Aside from her busy volunteer schedule, Lida has been leading a party planning company called Everyday Style for 23 years. She is also happily married with 2 children, one step child and five grandchildren, and enjoys spending time with her family. 

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