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That blizzard feeling

Making the most of ‘snow days’

28 Feb 2018 by John White

Rather like Marmite, the prospect of snow is a bit of a ‘love/hate thing’ for many people.

Having grown up in the South West of England, I have happy, but fleeting, memories of ‘snow days’ when the school would close, and my sister and I would make the most of the winter wonderland that was our back garden.

The ‘Beast from the East’ is a rather dramatic turn of phrase for this week’s snow flurry, but a London cityscape covered in a blanket of white is a beautiful sight to behold.

That said, having had a couple of comedy banana slips on the ice this week already, what is apparent is how challenging the conditions are for the frail and elderly, as well as those living with sight impairment.

One story this week that caught my attention was OT’s conversation with Katy Smith, who is working with Britain's first guide horse-in-training, Digby, to help journalist Mohammed Salim Patel navigate the streets of Blackburn.

A phobia of dogs meant that Mr Patel, who has retinitis pigmentosa, could not be paired with a guide dog.

Digby, an American miniature horse, came to the rescue. "From day one, because he is just the same size as a big dog, people have had the same reaction. They walk past, then they double-take and go 'Oh, it's a horse'," Ms Smith vividly shared with us.

And Digby's story is reaching far and wide Ms Smith explained, adding that she has received six enquiries from potential guide horse candidates based in London, Leicester, Liverpool and France. 

One country that knows how to deal with snow is Canada. This week, a partnership between researchers at the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE), the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, revealed that while the rate of myopia amongst children in Canada aged between six and eight was 6%, this rose to 28.9% for those aged 11–13. 

Lead investigator on the study and a clinical associate at CORE, Mike Yang, spoke of this trend as posing “a troubling picture,” but highlighted the beneficial impact of outdoor time. 

Does this mean I can count my ‘snow days’ as not just fun but a healthy pursuit, I wonder?

Image credit: Getty

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