Guide Dogs for the Blind to Unleash Virtual Workshops for Children and Teens Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

- Ready, Set, FORWARD Series to Prepare Youth for Guide Dog Lifestyle -

(Photo: Guide Dogs for the Blind)

SAN RAFAEL, Calif.--()--Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) has a new program coming out of the starting blocks in April, when it launches Ready, Set, FORWARD, a series of virtual workshops about the guide dog lifestyle aimed at youth who are blind or visually impaired.

The new program, which GDB hopes to continue on an ongoing basis, features Zoom workshops throughout April for youth exploring the option of getting a guide dog, their parents, and their other family members. It also includes sessions for professionals who work with students who are blind or visually impaired.

The workshops include:

  • The Canine Connection – Is Your Child Ready? – Open to parents and family members of youth who are blind or visually impaired. Will cover what it means to be ready for a guide dog, the important role independent living skills play in guide dog readiness, and practical tools parents can use to help prepare youth. (April 5, 3-5 p.m. PST, registration deadline March 31)
  • The Canine Connection – Is Your Student Ready? – Open to professionals in the field of blindness and visual impairment. Will cover how to assess your student’s readiness for guide dog travel, including tips and best practices on orientation & mobility lessons to help better prepare your student for working with a guide dog. (April 8, 3-5 p.m. PST, registration deadline March 31)
  • The Ruff Life Academy – Harness Your Pawtential – Five-day workshop open to teens age 14-17 and young adults age 18-24. Will cover how to communicate with a guide dog and how they communicate with us, including myth-busting about guide dogs and how to assess if you are ready to welcome a guide dog into your life. (April 12-16, April 19-23, 3-5 p.m. PST each day, registration deadline March 12)
  • Wags & Wisdom – Open to all. Panel discussion with GDB alumni who received their first guide dog at a young age, which will cover their experiences, successes, and challenges of the guide dog lifestyle while in high school or college. (April 26, 3-5 p.m. PST, registration deadline March 31)

“We are committed to assisting youth who are blind or visually impaired, and this program aims to not only support them but also the networks of people in their lives,” said Jane Flower, youth outreach specialist for Guide Dogs for the Blind. “We hope that Ready, Set, FORWARD helps make them as informed and prepared as possible to make the decision about whether the guide dog lifestyle is right for them.”

Ready, Set, FORWARD is the latest example of how GDB has pivoted to make more of its programs accessible during the Pandemic, finding practically anything is paw-sible online. After shelter-in-place orders were issued in many states, GDB began working with its puppy-raising clubs in 10 western states to help them move their regular meetings online. GDB has also managed puppy evaluations with field staff online and is currently providing support services to its more than 2,100 guide dog teams across the U.S. and Canada, via online tools.

For more information about Ready Set, FORWARD and GDB’s other youth programs, visit GDB youth programs.

About Guide Dogs for the Blind

Headquartered in San Rafael, Calif., Guide Dogs for the Blind is more than an industry-leading guide dog school; it is a passionate community that serves the visually impaired. GDB prepares highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or visually impaired. All of its services are provided free of charge. GDB receives no government funding. More than 15,000 guide teams have graduated from GDB since it was founded in 1942. The organization was the subject of an award-winning 2018 documentary feature called Pick of the Litter, which was developed into a television docu-series by the same name that debuted in late 2019 on the streaming service Disney+. For more information, visit


Barbara Zamost
(415) 389-0210


Barbara Zamost
(415) 389-0210