By: Mikaela Collins
The eyes are one of the most important tools for learning.
And at least 130 Northland children will have sharper tools after free eye testing found they needed glasses.
More than 1000 children in Northland had their eyes checked for free last week thanks to two separate foundations – One Sight and the Essilor Vision Foundation – going in to schools in the region.
One Sight has been travelling around the Far North since Monday visiting every school in Kaikohe – as well as Tautoro School, Te Kura o Waima, Omanaia School, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Tonga o Hokianga, and Opononi Area School – providing free eye checks and glasses for those who need them.
Of the 1080 they had tested as of Friday afternoon about 130, or 12 per cent, needed glasses.
“We’re looking at long time outcome, it’s not a flash in the pan thing. This is about long term impact for these tamariki and their whanau, in particular their learning,” said Rosie Nathan from Kainga Ora – the Government’s place-based initiative – who helped implement the programme.
“Eighty per cent of the learning is done through the eyes. So it’s an amazing opportunity.”
Stephanie Berendt, from OPSM – OneSight’s charity partner, said usually 10 to 20 per cent of children they test need glasses.
Ms Nathan said for some children it had been the first time they’d had their eyes checked. Others had been screened, and issued glasses,when One Sight visited Kaikohe two years ago.
“Two years ago we did it all in one school but this year they have been able to go from school to school and seen the benefits of that. Seeing the young people in their own environment but also with their own support.”
Meanwhile, The Essilor Vision Foundation, a New Zealand registered charity, was in Whangarei on Friday vision screening more than 350 kids from Raurimu Avenue School, Manaia View School, Hora Hora Primary School, Morningside School, Te Kura o Otangarei, and children in the care of Oranga Tamariki Ministry of Vulnerable Children.
It was 10-year-old Walter Connelly Gotty’s first time getting his eyes tested.
“I was nervous to see if anything was wrong with my vision. It wasn’t scary, it was really easy,” he said.
The Raurimu Avenue School student passed his eye test and thought the free eye tests were a good idea.
“I think free eye testing is pretty good because it can help people with not that good eye vision.”
Terryann Clark, Child and Youth Friendly Cities co-ordinator from Manaia Health PHO, and Pat Newman, Hora Hora Primary School principal, were instrumental in bringing the initiative to Whangarei after seeing the work of the charity in other parts of the country.
Anita Pistorius from Lowes & Partners Optometrists said the work of the Foundation has made a real difference in the lives of hundreds of low decile students who were living with undiagnosed vision conditions.
“Some of these children can be mislabelled as ‘disruptive’ or showed reduced performance when they simply couldn’t see what the teacher was writing at the front of the class and became frustrated and disengaged,” she said.
Once the glasses are ready the foundation arranges a special ceremony where children who need prescription lenses receive them in front of their school, the teachers and their parents to help ensure students feel accepted and supported to wear their new glasses.
Source: Northern Advocate