‘An equal world is an enabled world’, is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day on the 8th March. A mantra that resonates with our very own Kim Ryan, who has spent the last two decades helping people to live their lives more independently.
Kim who is the Program Manager for Guide Dogs Services Tasmania (link opens in new window) has implemented programs, provided orientation and mobility and trained many dogs over the years that have changed lives. Although Kim leads the team here in Tasmania, Kim’s work reaches people right across the globe.
Kim always had a fascination in what a Guide Dog did, along with a keen interest in health and veterinary science. This lead Kim to complete a Bachelor of Science in Animal Behaviour, a Post Graduate Diploma in Rehabilitation and study children’s orientation and mobility.
“I saw a working Guide Dog as a child and it sparked an interest. Recently when mum and dad moved house I was going through all my old school stuff and there were all these projects on Guide Dogs that I had done throughout high school and primary school that I forgot about. Right from a young age I had that interest”, explains Kim.
You get attached to the dogs; every dog has a special place in your heart. To see the difference in someone’s life, is why I do this job.Kim Ryan, Program Manager for Guide Dogs Services Tasmania
It is our clients that motivate Kim to succeed and keep up the wonderful work. Recently one client told Kim she didn’t change her life; she saved her life! She was someone who was house bound, isolated and wondered if they would qualify for a Guide Dog, or even need one. Finding a match with one of the dogs she was training. Kim then spent 4 weeks of intensive instruction with the client. This included coaching them every day with the dog. Six months on, Kim can’t book an appointment with them because they are out so much doing things which is so rewarding.
Family has always been important to Kim. Moving to Australia from New Zealand to further her career was a leap of faith. To be so far from her close-knit family. “My family, my Poppa knew I had this passion and interest, every Christmas it was a Guide Dog Cup when I got my driver’s license, he gave me a guide dog key ring. I didn’t really realise at the time that working with dogs would get me working with people and changing those people’s lives.” Kim moved to Tasmania for four years, fifteen years later she is still here and has no plans to go anywhere else.
Watching others achieve and gain recognition is a highlight of her work. One of her proudest moments was seeing Sean Cromwell graduate as a Guide Dog Trainer in Launceston.
I enjoy passing knowledge onto others. The Derek Freeman Scholarship and presenting at the International Guide Dog Conference was a huge honour. Tassie is small but we are doing amazing things.Kim Ryan, Program Manager for Guide Dogs Services Tasmania
If you live with vision impairment, we have a number of specialist services that can provide support to live independently, including orientation and mobility, Assistive Technology and Guide Dog services. Alternatively, please contact us for more information.