Vision screening is like herding cats

This is not meant to sound derogatory. I’m not really comparing children to cats but I’m beginning to realise just how difficult it is to get complete coverage of any group that you are trying to screen. It seems to me that on any one day there are at least 10% of children who are absent from the school. So getting 100% coverage keeps on receding.

On Friday we were supposed to catch the final 51 children for both the child-to-child vision screening, and also the SPOT vision screening. We managed to get about 30 of them. So there will be another session again. However, our theory is that teachers will not find it as difficult to follow up children in their own classes. Eventually, when teachers have control of the screening process they will simply get the child screened whenever they come to school.

There was something rather wonderful that happened on Friday though and it’s going to be one of the highlights of my year. There was one girl we were re-testing because her scores were so anomalous. The child-to-child screening indicated that she had severe visual impairment, while the SPOT screening indicated that she had perfect vision. What could be happening?

It turns out that she had asked her nana to take her for an eye test. We haven’t sent any letters home yet, because we are waiting till we are sure about our results, but this girl was proactive enough to take herself to the optometrist (with her nana). She came up to me on Friday to tell me that she can now see the whiteboard. I am simply blown away that we have the potential to do this kind of good with the project.

More than ever, I want to find the funding to keep the project going in 2020. Today I met the lovely Eterei Stonelake who told me about the Stonelake Foundation. We were both at the obstacle course that my students were running for the Conductive Education group (that’ll be another post). We were both wet and rather bedraggled, but it was a happy event for everyone.

I wrote to her about our project – and now I’m imagining and wondering whether our big fundraising and awareness raising event for 2020 will be associated with one of the home games of the Highlanders. This would be incredibly exciting. I am fired up again to keep believing in this project and fighting for the rights of children with visual impairment in New Zealand. h

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