Making a difference one pair of spectacles at a time…
Loss of sight, it is widely pronounced, is the one sense that people fear losing the most. For, without it, we cannot appreciate the beauty of the world around us. Sight is also the key to learning – it is estimated that up to 80% of what children learn is assimilated through their eyes. Thus any form of vision impairment can adversely affect a child’s performance in the classroom, on the sports field and, by implication, his or her social interaction with peers.
“Making a difference to the eye care health of underprivileged children across the country is the primary focus of our CSI initiative, Vision Mission,” explains Geraldine Engelman, CSI Manager of Ster-Kinekor Theatres.
“This week, we are able to make a real difference to the eyesight of more than 50 learners from Kwanele Primary School on the East Rand. In partnership with Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), and as part of the back to school campaign, we have screened 500 learners at the school. Of these, 59 required spectacles to give them a clear vision.”
The learners will be fitted with their spectacles, sponsored by another partner in the project Spec Savers, at an event at Ster-Kinekor Festival Mall in Kempton Park on 31 August. The children will then be treated to a fun morning at the movies, when they watch Ice Age: Collision Course armed with a cooldrink and popcorn from Ster-Kinekor. The learners will also receive a goodie bag at the end of the morning’s entertainment.
“We approached ACSA to partner with us on this project. Our objective with our ‘Vision Mission’ CSI project is to provide corrective eye care to disadvantaged learners. ACSA supports crèches and primary schools in communities adjacent to its airports, such as Katlehong and O.R. Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park. This provided us with the perfect opportunity to work together to give the learners of Kwanele Primary School a clear and bright future,” states Engelman.
In South Africa, where the demand for public healthcare services is stretched, something as basic but necessary as regular eye tests among children becomes less of a priority. The tragedy is that of the thousands of children who suffer from some form of visual impairment, the majority of these cases are treatable if discovered at an early age. However, many go unnoticed and untreated because so many children, particularly those in underprivileged areas, do not have access to affordable treatment.
“The aims of Ster-Kinekor’s Vision Mission are to contribute to the elimination of avoidable blindness in communities across South Africa, and to increase awareness of low vision as a major public health issue. Our programme is also aligned to the World Health Organisation’s 20/20 Vision Project that aims to eradicate preventable blindness by the year 2020,” says Engelman.
“Being able to walk into a darkened cinema and watch in wonder as a fantastical story unfolds before your eyes, in a larger-than-life format, is a wonderful experience. All our customers who enjoy watching films at any of our cinemas can also make a difference, simply by making a donation to Vision Mission.
“When booking online (www.sterkinekor.com) or at one of our self-service terminals in the cinema foyer, we encourage movie-goers to make a contribution – any amount from just R2.50 – to Vision Mission when prompted during the booking process. One click is all it takes to give someone less fortunate a clearer vision of their future – and every cent can make a difference,” concludes Engelman.