Opticians to sponsor week of events to promote blind charity

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Optician company Specsavers is to be a sponsor of the Manx Blind Welfare Society’s Vision Awareness Week 2014.

The optician, which has a branch in Douglas, has committed its support by becoming sponsor of the Official Launch, to be held at the Manx Museum from midday on September 15.

As we reported here the event, which is open to the public, will begin a week of activities to raise awareness of the challenges faced by visually-impaired people in the Isle of Man, highlight ways these challenges can be reduced to promote independent living and encourage good eye health.

It will be addressed by Steve Cunningham, an inspirational speaker who since losing his sight aged 12 has gone on to break World Records and play sport for his country.

A successful fundraiser, business college graduate, former employee of Barclays Bank and proud father of two daughters, Steve is holder of the blind land speed and powerboat World Records and was the first blind person to fly a plane around the UK. He is also a keen sportsman who captained the England Blind Football team at the blind football World Cup and has played for the England Blind Cricket team, trained with Aston Villa and is a regular golfer.

Adrian Higgins, director at Specsavers, said: ‘Our eyes work hard processing over 36,000 images an hour and so deserve more regular attention. The launch of Vision Awareness Week 2014 will help to communicate this and Specsavers are proud to sponsor such a worthwhile event.

‘The work that Manx Blind Welfare Society does for people in the island is highly commendable and it is a pleasure for Specsavers to work alongside them.

‘We look forward to the launch of Vision Awareness Week 2014 and can’t wait to be involved.’

Vision Awareness Week aims to significantly raise public awareness of the challenges faced by blind and visually impaired people living in the Isle of Man by highlighting what people can do to embrace visual impairment in society, employment and social activities, as well as understanding how those with vision impairment live.

During the week, MBWS will promote improvements in access to public services for blind and visually impaired people and publicise the role of societies and agencies working with blind and visually impaired people in the island.

The charity will also encourage people to think about their own eye health and the potential impact that their lifestyle could have on their future vision, enabling them to access to information and services about potential risks.

Volunteers coordinator and events organiser Debbie Kenyon said: ‘We are delighted Specsavers is sponsor of the Official Launch of Vision Awareness Week 2014.

‘One of the central aims of the week is to promote the importance of good eye health. There are potentially serious eye conditions which can be treated and addressed successfully if identified early enough. One of the most effective ways of detecting potential sight problems is to have regular eye exams at your optician, so the involvement of Specsavers in Vision Awareness Week is a perfect fit.

‘Everyone who attends the launch will not only have the opportunity to find out what we are trying to achieve with Vision Awareness Week, but will also hear an inspirational and entertaining talk from Steve Cunningham, whose own achievements challenge you to reassess your limits and what you can do.’

Official launch tickets, priced £10, are available from Corrin Court in Onchan.

Call 674727 or email enquiries@mbws.org.im for more details.

Other highlights of Vision Awareness Week include what promises to be the largest guided walking event ever in the Isle of Man, on September 21.

The society offers free training to assist sighted people to appropriately and safely guide a person with visual impairment, and Walk My Way invites members of the public to try out guided walking along the Douglas promenade. Entrants will be paired up, with one wearing a blindfold and the other guiding as the walk moves between the Sea Terminal and War Memorial. Walk My Way is open to individuals or corporate teams, and anyone taking part can help raise money for the Society by being sponsored for the walk if they choose.

There will be opportunities around the island to find out about eye health and the services available to blind and visually impaired people at a series of roadshows during the week. The roadshow will be from 10am to 3pm at Castletown Civic Hall on September 16, Corrin Hall, Peel, on September 17, Ramsey Town Hall on September 18 and Promenade Church, Douglas, on September 19.

Debbie added: ‘We are very excited about our first Vision Awareness Week and would be happy to hear from anyone who would like to get involved in supporting or taking part in any of the events.’

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