Sophie Weaver may only be little, but she has a heart bigger than most.
Sophie, 7, has ocular albinism and 20 per cent vision. But that didn’t stop Sophie from being brave enough to give judo a go with the Sutherland Judo Club.
Not only that, but earlier this month Sophie was graded to yellow belt. It is a sign of how well she has picked up the sport and a reward for her dedication, given she is at every training session on Monday and Wednesday nights without fail under the tutelage of coach Gavin Morgan.
Albinism is a rare genetic condition that affects about 1000 Australians, or one in 17,000.
It is inherited via a recessive gene that is passed from both the mother and the father.
Albinism causes the body to be unable, or have limited ability, to produce melanin which is responsible for the colouring in skin, hair and eyes.
Most people with albinism, like Sophie, have some degree of vision impairment and many are classed as legally blind.
The vision impairment is caused by the reduced ability or complete inability to produce melanin which is essential in the development and function of the eye.
Earlier this year Judo NSW ran an initiative with Blind Sports NSW to promote the merits of judo to visually impaired children. About 10 instructors gave up their time to teach the children judo, with Sophie in particular enjoying a wonderful day. She loved that she had her own judo suit and knew some of the moves, so was a natural when on the mat.
Sophie’s parents are trying to raise $15,000 to secure innovative technology to assist their daughter’s vision. The new technology will give Sophie something money can’t buy – the ability to see. Her vision will go from 20 per cent, or legally blind, to 20/20 with the innovation. But it comes at a cost.
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