Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 08/27/2014 17:58 | By Channel NewsAsia

Visually-impaired children savour Cavalia

Visually-impaired children savour Cavalia

Visually-impaired children savour Cavalia

SINGAPORE: They may not be able to take in the visual spectacle of equestrian circus Cavalia, but seven children from the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) got to enjoy the show in a different way.

In the specially conducted Blind Touch Tour on Wednesday (Aug 27), led by performers Jennifer Lecuyer and Spencer Rose, the visually-impaired children were guided around the stables and had the opportunity to touch and interact with some of the horses, as well as the equipment used in the show. They also took in sounds of the equine stars galloping closely around them.

Lighthouse School student Zhi Lin finds out what a horse’s tail feels like (Photo: Loke Kok Fai)

SAVH Occupational Therapist Geraldine Tay said such tactile experiences allow the visually-impaired to better experience and appreciate the world around them.

Ms Tay said: "They seem to be really interested and excited to take in the experience, and they asked a lot of questions. So I think that helps a lot because they are visually impaired. It helps to integrate their other senses into their lifestyle."

"Only through their other senses do they take in the world, and that is how they learn and experience how the world is like outside. Because of their loss of vision, their other senses are more activated. They are more sensitive to tactile touch, smell and hearing. So through such activities - where they get to smell the horses' food, touch the horses' mane and groom them - it helps to let them appreciate their other senses more," she added.

Ezzati Hamidi from Lighthouse School brushes the back of a horse for the first time. (Photo: Loke Kok Fai)

Ezzati Hamidi, a visually-impaired student from Lighthouse School, said she has experienced the thrill of riding a horse, but she still was not prepared for what awaited her at Cavalia's Blind Touch Tour.

She described her experience during the tour: "I can hear the horse's heartbeat and when I touched the new horse, I thought he was kissing my hand. At first I was very scared of the horse, but now I am ok."

On the origins of the tour, Cavalia spokesperson Eric Paquette said he was inspired by a mother's attempt at explaining the sights of the show to her blind son when they performed in California. Together with a team of artistes, he came up with the idea of the hour-long tour as a way to give back to the community where they are performing in.

He said: "Cavalia is a visual show, it is a beautiful show. And I think how it translates to those kids doing the Blind Touch Tour here at Cavalia is that they are in awe, they discover new things, they are very curious and they leave with a sense of wonder."

Wednesday's tour was the first organised in Southeast Asia. The Blind Touch Tour has been running for a year and a half, but was conducted with groups from the United States, Australia and Canada, according to the troupe.  - CNA/kk/by

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