Letchworth 18-year-old with impaired vision and mobility issues to climb over O2 Arena for Blind Children UK

Sophie Tennison, centre, with her mum Dawn, right, and Tracey Banks from Blind Children UK.

Sophie Tennison, centre, with her mum Dawn, right, and Tracey Banks from Blind Children UK. - Credit: Archant

An 18-year-old from Letchworth with impaired vision and mobility issues has recovered from two years of depression following a debilitating accident to speak in parliament, and will be climbing over the O2 Arena in London on Wednesday to raise money for other young people living with sight problems.

Sophie Tennison speaking in parliament about the support young people with impaired vision need.

Sophie Tennison speaking in parliament about the support young people with impaired vision need. - Credit: Archant

Sophie Tennison, who used to go to the Lonsdale School in Stevenage, will be going over the dome next week in aid of Blind Children UK, accompanied by dad Michael and 14-year-old twin brothers Thomas and George. She will use a special wheelchair as she is physically unable to accomplish the task unaided.

The climb comes just a month after Sophie spoke at the Houses of Parliament about how it is to be visually impaired and how Blind Children UK has helped her over the last year and a half.

“Receiving help from Blind Children UK not only helped me gain life skills but help me gain some confidence back,” said Sophie.

“I was depressed and highly anxious. They helped me learn that being visually impaired is not the worst thing in the world – who cares if people have an issue with it, that’s their problem!


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“I have learnt so many valuable skills, like how to cook my favourite meals to the best of my ability.

“Without Blind Children UK I wouldn’t have become who I am. I would still be floundering with no skills to live.”

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Sophie, who was left with hydrocephalus and other conditions by a brain tumour at 13 months old, stopped going to school after a traumatic fall in 2012.

Mum Dawn explained: “She broke her elbow and ripped her tricep off. This completely destroyed her confidence and she spent two years not leaving the house, very depressed.

“She then decided one day to do something about it and got in touch with BCUK.

“They began working with Sophie about 18 months ago and worked on things like cooking and making yourself a drink without spilling it everywhere – things we take for granted.

“They also taught Sophie to use a long cane to improve her mobility, and got her outside to use buses, trains and escalators.”

When Sophie spoke about her condition to a youth group she attends, she was so eloquent that BCUK asked her to speak at parliament during their campaign week for the wider availability of training across England last month.

Sophie loves live music and has been to the O2 a few times already. She decided to climb over about half a year ago.

Dawn said: “As few as 17 per cent of visually impaired young people get the service of a habilitation specialist – which is a shocking statistic.

“Sophie is really turning into a young lady who wants to make a difference.”

For more information or to donate see justgiving.com/sophie-tennison.

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