Without being able to drive, I’ve always thought that blind people who use guide dogs — especially those of us who live in big cities — must walk more than the average person does. Now I have a chance to prove it.
Some of you blog readers know I have a part-time job at Easter Seals Headquarters here in Chicago — last week they started a six-week “Walk For U, Go The Extra Mile” challenge as part of their wellness program. Every employee received a free pedometer to keep track of progress for six weeks, and those of us who meet the daily goal of 7,000 steps per day — a distance of 3.5 miles — throughout the entire six weeks will be entered into a drawing to win a six-month fitness club membership.
The human resources department here realized I wouldn’t be able to read the number of steps I’d taken each day on my own, so they ordered a special talking pedometer for me — it says my results out loud. And so, I’m on my way to prove my theory.
The list of requirements for people applying to train with a Seeing Eye dog says candidates need to be able to walk one or two miles a day:
Applicant must be between the ages of 16 and 75, motivated and emotionally stable, capable of walking one to two miles a day, and able to receive and implement instruction.
In a post I published on the Easter Seals blog about all this, I explained that when you live in a city you can’t simply open a sliding glass patio door to let your guide dog out. I take Whitney down the street, around the corner and to her favorite tree at least four times a day. That’s 1,000 steps per trip. My talking pedometer counted out 12,157 steps the day I walked to Walgreens to pick up prescriptions, and that included a safety shortcut I take each way to cross State Street. Whitney and I walk down the subway stairs on one side, pad along under State Street and then ascend the stairs on the other side…safe & sound.
Not sure what Whitney and I will do with the free six-month fitness club membership when we win the “Walk For U, Go The Extra Mile” challenge at Easter Seals. Seems to me we already have a free pass to the gym: running errands in our neighborhood is like using a treadmill, and every El station is a StairMaster!