We are undoubtedly experiencing challenging times across the globe. With the daily demands of our lives and the current state of the world, we may feel powerless to face our circumstances – especially when it comes to our children. While in many cases, we truly do not have control, two recent reminders have enlightened my opinion of forging a new perspective while remaining mindful of what is still happening around us.
First, I read a blog that uniquely challenged the way we lead our children during uncertainty. The author encouraged us, as adults, to consider the opportunities our children have for learning life lessons during difficulties, rather than modeling a “loss-mindset” for them to follow. He went on to remind the reader that “mindset matters” and that we are setting the stage for the next generation. How we talk about and respond to challenges ultimately influences our children.
Second, a webinar hosted by the UN Friends of Vision provided additional inspiration. Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF, said in reference to advocating for children’s vision, “Their education, their opportunities, and their futures depend on our support. We must not let them down.”
You might wonder what this has to do with vision care, but in both cases, the word opportunity stands out. Simply defined, opportunity is a “set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.” And while we may not have the right circumstances at all times, we can still do something – even the smallest something.
Today, a pair of eyeglasses could correct the poor vision of 239 million children. In my view, this means that “doing something” is not an optional undertaking – it’s our responsibility, and it’s an opportunity.
In many regions, 2020 was a catalyst for staging the next levels of change required to ensure that children have equal opportunities for overall wellbeing, healthcare, and learning.
More than a quarter of all children (1 in 4) in the European Union are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. “The Child Guarantee” is meant to ensure that all children in Europe who are at risk of poverty, social exclusion, or are otherwise disadvantaged, have access to essential, quality services. Besides this measure, the European Coalition for Vision and its membership, including the Vision Impact Institute, will advocate for the inclusion of vision health into the “The Child Guarantee” initiative.
On World Sight Day, Kenya’s The Standard and The Star announced that the Kenyan Ministry of Health will launch the National Strategic Plan for Eye Health 2020 – 2025 to improve and scale up the delivery of eye care services in the country over the next five years. This strategy is strongly informed by the WHO’s World Report on Vision. While it includes all population groups, it prioritizes the vision of schoolchildren and teenage students.
With 80% of all learning being visual, this is an important step in Kenyan children’s education and their futures.
The Hon. Mutahi Kagwe, EGH Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health says, “Those that are the most affected in this situation are school-going children, who are needlessly denied opportunities to excel in school due to visual impairment. Good vision for these children opens the world for school-going children.”
We applaud these and so many efforts by our individual and coalition partners to prioritize better life through better sight. As advocates for good vision, we must continue to seek opportunities to ensure that vision care for children is no longer treated as optional.
Let us continue to embrace every effort to “do something” for the millions of children around the world who are counting on us to help pave their way.