A group of Japanese youth, who are blind or have low vision have been experiencing the Kiwi way of life this past week.

The youth, aged between 15-24 years are in New Zealand as part of their life enrichment programme.

Their week-long itinerary, managed by the Blind Foundation’s Community and Life Enrichment team, included:

  • A visit to Awhina House in Auckland where they toured the facility, recorded a song and met with Blind Foundation staff and members of the Epic Youth Group.
  • A tour of the Guide Dog facility where they met the puppies in training and took them for a walk.
  • A weekend homestay where they experienced the Kiwi way of life.
  • A trip to Rotorua where they took part in a Maori cultural experience, including a Marae stay.

They were blown away by the reception they received and have absolutely loved their time in New Zealand.

During their visit to Awhina House, they took a stroll to the sensory garden nearby.  The goal of the garden is to provide visitors with an experience that appeals to as many of the senses as possible, not just visual.  They couldn’t help but sing its praises.

“We loved the sensory garden; we have never experienced something like this before.  We have been around fragrant flowers but it was great to smell some herbs.  The plants were the right height so we didn’t have to bend very low.”

Blair Gilbert, National Manager Community and Life Enrichment said this is an exciting opportunity to open the door for cultural exchanges.

“I would like to think that this is the first of many youth exchange opportunities.  We have really enjoyed welcoming this delegation to New Zealand and look forward to welcoming many more in years to come.”

The group recorded a few songs in Japanese as a gift to our members, you can listen to them below.

You can also check out the photographs from their visit to our Guide Dog facility on our Facebook page.