When Pascal Marcil lost his sight at 30, he turned to CNIB for support and guidance. Years later, he wanted to give back to the community that was there for him in his time of need.
A former caseworker, volunteering to facilitate a peer support group seemed like a natural fit for Pascal. For people who have lost their sight, connecting with others who have experienced the same thing can make a world of difference.
"The groups have a major impact. Some people have lost a sense of hope and taking part in a support group rekindles their flame," says Pascal, who also benefitted from support groups in the past. "The group becomes an additional source of strength for people to get through it."
The weekly support groups facilitated by Pascal create a sense of family where people find comfort and support - sharing advice on a variety of topics without passing judgment.
One of the members says: "Our vision loss is easier to accept when we have the opportunity to discuss it with others who've had to overcome the same challenges.”
Pascal admits that peer support comes in many forms and continues well beyond the eight-week teleconference program.
“I know that for some participants, this call is their only social moment of the week," says Pascal. "Moreover, many participants make new friends that they continue to chat with after the sessions have ended.”
An inspiring facilitator with a sense of humour, Pascal is passionate about what he does.
"He's always ready to help, and with his professional experience as a caseworker, he can provide additional support to those who need it," says Najla Noori, Program Lead, Peer Support and Youth Programs, CNIB Foundation.
Pascal admits that he also learns a lot from facilitating the groups.
“Meeting people facing similar challenges and experiences is always very inspiring and reassuring," says Pascal. "Participants come from very diverse backgrounds and everyone has something to contribute."