Anne-Marie Caulton is passionate about education and working as a Guide Dogs Queensland client ambassador, so that the low and no vision community as a whole, can provide better support to one another.
“It’s about educating people so that they can provide the right support. You have to give people the opportunity to understand, and take a chance on being vulnerable in order to gain good support.” Anne-Marie said.
Anne-Marie was diagnosed with cone-rod dystrophy at just eight years of age, but like many people with vision loss, she went through her schooling years, and into the workforce, without seeking specialised support and services.
“I completed secondary education without getting any assistance. I didn’t see myself as any different from anyone else, however I probably concealed any difficulties because I didn’t want to be judged. I just wanted to be treated as normal.”After a few years working for her father’s boutique ice-cream making business, she decided to study occupational therapy and work toward helping others.
“I decided to study occupational therapy because of the diversity it offered and I instinctively knew that there were going to be more possibilities for me.”
Working in the industry with a vision condition of her own gave Anne-Marie invaluable insight into the support that people need to be able to develop their confidence and independence.
“I was constantly learning more about my own vision and other people’s vision and could really empathise with them.”
This interest in education and support led Anne-Marie to volunteer to be an ambassador for Guide Dogs Queensland. She is particularly passionate about visiting schools and educating young children.
As a Guide Dogs Queensland client ambassador, Anne-Marie will have the chance to attend a variety of events from school functions, community fundraisers and events to share her story and help spread awareness around the services that Guide Dogs offers to Queenslanders with low or no vision.
“Getting into schools and educating people when they’re younger is going to reap lots of long-term benefits. I can use my experience to help people understand so that they can then provide support to others.”
Originally from New Zealand, Anne-Marie now lives on the Gold Coast.