Vision Impairment Awareness Training in Schools

A colleague of ours, Hassan Khan, is leading an initiative to deliver Vision Impairment awareness training in schools. Fortunately, he is doing this on a pan-London basis, not just in the ELVis region, so I don’t feel I’m stealing his thunder focusing my Blog this time on this fascinating topic.

One of ELVis’s major strands of work over the last 12 months has been to deliver such training to a wide variety of audiences including representatives from: a range of leisure providers, health workers, statutory agencies and voluntary sector groups. It hasn’t been uncommon for people to ask why they aren’t taught about these matters in school, so hopefully this new piece of work will address some of those concerns.

Last Tuesday morning, a mixture of ELVis staff, along with a colleague from Metro Blind Sport, visited Redlands Primary school in Tower Hamlets to deliver awareness training to years 5 and 6 (that’s children aged 9-11 years in old money). Before that though, we spoke with the School Council, which consisted of children of all ages, to explain who we were and what we do. We split the training into 4 sections: drama, sport, sighted guiding and find the object in a box with a blindfold on. I have to say we felt it all went extremely well, but don’t take my word for it. Here is an extract from an Email sent to Hassan by          Niki di Palma, Deputy Head teacher:

“Thanks so much for Tuesday – you and your colleagues did a fantastic job and the feedback from the workshop sessions were overwhelmingly positive! It would be really fantastic if you could return at some time and meet with some of the younger children – perhaps initially years 3 & 4. Children of this age can be a bit silly or giggly about someone who is different from them in some way and I want to break down these barriers.  You and your colleagues were so warm and personable I think you would do a fantastic job of dismantling these barriers. I feel strongly that this could be the start of a very worthwhile relationship.”

The children on the School council also decided that they want to help ELVis in being able to provide support to blind and partially sighted people and have come up with some ingenious fundraising ideas including: A sponsored event to be partially sighted for the day at school (have one eye covered), Play games suitable for visually impaired people during the final hour of the day in school and An after school club to learn Braille.

So, we think we have a win-win formula here and look forward to repeating it across the ELVis region.

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East London Vision (ELVis) is the subgroup for the 7 geographical areas that naturally cover all of east London north of the Thames: • Barking and Dagenham • City and Hackney • Havering • Newham • Redbridge • Tower Hamlets • Waltham Forest. ELVis is designed to provide an effective and efficient way of ensuring that vision impaired people living in East London get the support and services they need. It is an umbrella organisation with voluntary sector, user led representation in each of the east London boroughs. Our vision is that everyone living in East London experiencing, or at risk of, any form of sight loss, receives a high quality service relevant to their need and at a time appropriate for themselves. Our aim is to enhance & link vision impaired services and organisations throughout East London, improving the quality of life for blind and partially sighted people and increasing individual independence.

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