Vision Pre-screening: 10,700 children screened (Aug 13, 2011)


Comments   |   dfs Bangalore, Reports

In the end of June, we initiated the Eye pre-screening program to address vision defects amongst children at Govt. and Govt.-aided schools across Bangalore South zone-I in association with the “Nanna Kannu” program of Sankara Eye Hospital and Sri Ramana trust. The target we’d set ourselves was to cover 26,000 children across 100 schools by September.

Thanks to the enthusiasm and continued efforts of the volunteers involved, we have thus far managed to pre-screen 10,700 children  covering 47 schools. This effort has enabled Sankara Eye hospital to initiate the second stage of having their team of optometrists screen the approximately 2100 children short-listed by our volunteers as requiring further attention.

So firstly, a Big Thank you to each one of you who has been involved in making this possible :-)! Special thanks also to volunteers Elizabeth, Sagarika, Swathi, Nagamani, Sharan and David for taking charge and driving this program.

At this junction, we would also like to share with all of you the nuts and bolts of this program, so we can review what went right (and what didn’t!), and the way forward to achieve (and hopefully surpass) the target we’ve set ourselves. Do take time to go through the following points, and offer your suggestions on what can be improved:

Our mode of operation thus far

Initially, Sankara Eye Hospital trained 21 YFS volunteers on conducting the pre-screening. The method is simple, and these volunteers have in turn trained other volunteers (at the schools itself, on the day of the screening). In the 47 schools covered thus far, the screening has been done by:

  • Individual YFS volunteers- most of us are free to do this only on Saturday mornings; we also had a group of vacation volunteers available on weekdays
  • On 4 occasions, companies have sent their employees (as a team of 15-25) to volunteer at schools, as a one-day event  
  • A women’s group in Kathriguppe have taken responsibility of 7 schools in their area, and undertaken the entire process, starting from getting permissions from the schools

The screenings are typically a 3-4 hour event in the morning. All necessary material has been made available to us by Sankara Eye Hospital.

What’s worked well

  • Corporate volunteers- getting a team of about 20 volunteers on a weekday enables us to finish close to 1000 children on the same day  
  • The Women’s group taking complete responsibility of a bunch of schools, from initial groundwork to finishing the pre-screening  
  • Obtaining the Block Education Officer (the concerned government authority)’s permission has eased the process of getting permissions from schools (initially, a lot of schools refused to have the screening conducted without this letter)
  • Having a few volunteers take charge of continuously getting permissions, lining up volunteers and making the pre-screenings happen on a continuous basis
  • A large number of volunteers have participated in this program

Some question marks (suggestions most welcome!)

  • Of late, we haven’t had pre-screenings happen on weekdays (except for the volunteers from corporates), since most vacations have come to an end.  
  • Since the scope of this program is a particular set of areas in Bangalore (Bangalore south zone-I, stretching from Kengeri to the Kanakapura road belt), volunteers have often had to travel a fair distance to schools  
  • We have been provided with a nice animated video that conveys the message of why it’s important to care for one’s eyes and not neglect eye-care. The idea was to show this to the children initially, before doing the pre-screening, so that they learn the importance of this. However, except for a few schools in the beginning, we have dropped this and skipped straight away to the pre-screening process, since the logistics (projector, laptop, showing it to all children) and time involved make it difficult. What alternative do we explore for this?  
  • One central group of volunteers has been involved in getting most permissions and dates from schools, prior to the actual pre-screening. And on more than one occasion, the schools have been hard to locate!  
  • The initial plan, keeping in mind that this should become a process that happens automatically year after year at these schools, was to involve the local residents in the vicinity of each school (community engagement). That is the way to make this sustainable. We haven’t made this happen yet.  

The way forward

  • Community engagement- apartments, colleges, households in one particular area to take up responsibility for making this happen at the govt. schools in that area.
  • Part-time Volunteers/sets of volunteers to take up ownership and finish the process at a set of schools 
  • Engaging NCC, NSS groups at colleges. Are there any other such groups we can involve?
  • Continue the engagement of weekend volunteers and cover a lot of schools each working Saturday