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Brookings has first ever White Cane Awareness Walk

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 11:10 PM CDT
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Brookings, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Starting in 1964, the United States Congress designated October 15th as a day to educate drivers on White Cane Laws, to protect blind or visually impaired pedestrians as they cross the street.

The White Cane Law requires motorists to stop for anyone using a white cane or a guide dog, so the blind or visually impaired person can safely cross the street.

Sioux Falls has hosted White Cane Awareness Walks in the past but did not this year or last due to COVID-19 concerns. So, some Sioux Falls residents came to the walk in Brookings, to not only spread knowledge of the laws but of the capabilities of the visually impaired.

“A lot of people need to know about what the white cane is and the White Cane Laws and know the abilities that blind people are capable of,” said Mike Klimisch, National Federation of the Blind South Dakota President. “We’re just another cross-section of the society, we have the same wants and needs as everybody else, we just can’t see, that’s the only thing.”

As part of the Brookings Disability Awareness Committee, Ismael Collazo wanted to host an event in Brookings.

“I’ve actually participated in a couple in Sioux Falls, but I’ve never put one together and I moved to Brookings about a year and a half ago, and they didn’t have one up here, so I just wanted to bring awareness to the day and the white cane,” said Collazo.

Collazo hopes hosting the event in Brookings will not only help keep visually impaired people in Brookings safe but across the state.

“There wasn’t an event so not a lot of people would know about white cane and white cane awareness and the laws that come with it,” said Collazo. “Just to bring awareness to it I think helps the visually impaired people in the county and not only the county but all-around South Dakota and around the country.”

Collazo hopes to host a white cane walk every year while he is in Brookings. The National Federation of the Blind in South Dakota is planning on hosting an event in Sioux Falls next year.

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