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Guide Dogs partner with Beano

Guide Dogs has partnered with Beano to create better understanding of the impact of sight loss.

Guide Dogs partner with Beano
Craig Graham: “At Beano, it’s important to us to reflect kids’ experiences and help them navigate life with the fun and mischief that all kids should get to enjoy.”

Earlier this month, Guide Dogs partnered with Beano to create a bespoke story available in an issue of the Beano comic. The partnership hopes to raise awareness of children and young people with visual impairments as well as the services Guide Dogs offer to help people with sight loss have the confidence and support they need to live their lives to the fullest. Alongside the bespoke comic strip, DC Thomson says the collaboration sees its first audio comic strip story created especially for people with visual impairments, making ‘Beano Presents – A Buddy for Life’ accessible for everyone to enjoy.

Available digitally and in print from 1st May, the special Guide Dogs comic strip story sees Beano’s beloved character Erbert, announce his recent sight loss diagnosis to his friends for the very first time, after meeting a guide dog owner at the Bash Street School. The characters subsequently take a trip to the Guide Dogs National Centre, to find out more about the support the charity provides to adults and children with sight loss.

Buddy dog owner Alex McQueen age 7 along with his buddy dog Chance and guide dog owner Hester Poole aged 16 with her guide dog Pickle, have been ‘Beanofied’ and appear as their very own characters in the bespoke comic strip story pullout. Both Alex and Hester have been supported by Guide Dogs over the years so they can live actively and independently.

Each year, over 1,400 families are told that their child is losing their sight which can be a challenging and isolating time. With four in five (83%) adults with sight loss admitting they were bullied as children, Guide Dogs has partnered with Beano to raise awareness of the impact sight loss can have on a child or young person. The bespoke comic strip story hopes to help encourage young people to be more accepting and kind to those with visual impairments, added the publisher.

Alex’s mother, Lindsey McQueen said, “For Alex and Chance to be turned into comic characters in Beano is extremely exciting for him and all the family. Not just because he will be appearing in the comic, but because he is excited to show off Chance to the world. Guide Dogs has been supporting Alex since he was four years old and changed his life when Chance the buddy dog came home in 2022. They have a special bond that has helped both practically with Alex’s visual impairment but also with his confidence and given him a best friend.”

Since 2012, Guide Dogs has run the Buddy Dog service, matching children who are blind or partially sighted with dogs to help them develop their self-confidence, make friends and positively impact their wellbeing. Buddy dogs are dogs that are deemed to be more suited to living with a young person and their family than working as guide dogs and their presence can bring about transformative positive effects.

‘Beano Presents – A Buddy for Life’ is available as a comic strip story, an audio comic story and as an adaptable digital comic story with a dyslexia-friendly typeface to make it fully accessible to all. The comic strip story is available to download as a panel-by-panel pdf, a more adaptable option for readers using digital devices allowing for screen magnification and larger fonts.

For Craig Graham, editorial director at Beano Studios, the partnership has been extremely meaningful as someone on their own journey with sight loss.

Craig said, “At Beano, it’s important to us to reflect kids’ experiences and help them navigate life with the fun and mischief that all kids should get to enjoy. ‘Beano Presents – A Buddy for Life’ has given us the opportunity to talk at length about sight loss, which has been a particularly special project for me as someone who has a visual impairment. We hope that this special Guide Dogs comic story brings joy to kids, whilst also helping them understand more about sight loss, how to be there for their friends and highlights the services available to kids and young people that Guide Dogs offer.”

Alex Pepper, head of accessibility at Guide Dogs, said, “Our partnership with Beano will help children learn more about visual impairments and the various services Guide Dogs offers in a fun yet educational way. With Erbert opening up about his visual impairment to the Bash Street Kids for the very first time, we hope to encourage people to feel more comfortable sharing their sight loss experience.

“We aim to raise awareness of sight loss through our fully accessible bespoke comic strip story, which includes a first-of-its-kind audio version that enables everyone to enjoy and access the content across multiple formats. We hope to normalise these conversations so young people can better understand how to be inclusive and supportive of everyone.”

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