The QBE Foundation has donated $10,000 to support a unique initiative by Sydney’s Save Sight Institute to assist children and teenagers with low vision or blindness.
The “Making Connections” information day, held on Saturday 27th August in the Sydney CBD, was attended by approximately 200 people, including teenagers with vision loss, their parents and teachers. Parents and carers of babies and young children with eye disease were also invited to attend.
The full day programme included speakers addressing a range of relevant topics, including singer/songwriter Rachael Leahcar from The Voice who lives with Retinitis Pigmentosa, and Connor McLeod, the young man who successfully lobbied the Reserve Bank of Australia for tactile bank notes.
According to paediatric ophthalmologist and key driver of the initiative, A/Professor John Grigg, “Children and young people with eye disease do best when they are surrounded by informed and connected people. We aim to deliver an interesting and relevant day for young people and those who care for them, and in doing so we have built up a strong community of people who work together to give kids the best start in life.”
The Save Sight Institute information day aims to provide families and teachers with a “one stop shop” for information and tools to enhance a child’s transition through the early years, primary school, high school, university and on to the workforce. The diagnosis of childhood eye disease can set whole families on what is often an unexpected and complicated journey and the day is intended as an annual “check-in” for families and individuals to access new information or support in a timely way.
SSI’s Youth Ambassadors started the day, with 16 year old Sacha Thomas speaking passionately about self-acceptance and the need to embrace all opportunities which come along, while 19 year old Harrison Kirkwood told the audience that “Adversity is something you interact with and dance with. There is no normal.”
Other speakers included Graeme Innes AM who discussed his new book “Finding A Way”, as well as elite paratriathlete Jonathan Goerlach who spoke about his approach to overcoming life’s obstacles.
Professor John Grigg and Professor Robyn Jamieson from SSI provided updates on the new frontiers of medical science and ophthalmology.
The day was also attended by key service providers, including Vision Australia, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Blind Sports NSW, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, Blind Citizens NSW and many more individuals and organisations involved in supporting people with eye disease and impaired vision.
“We are extremely grateful to the QBE Foundation for supporting this important and valuable day for families” said Professor John Grigg. “Without their support we would not be able to deliver something so worthwhile to so many people. The generosity of the QBE Foundation is sincerely appreciated and has already had an extremely positive impact on the lives of many people whose lives are touched by eye disease and vision loss.”
QBE Foundation Australia and New Zealand chairperson Sally Kincaid said: “The QBE Foundation’s aim is to assist the communities we support through helping people overcome disadvantage, strengthen their abilities and live more independently, successfully and productively. We are proud to have helped Save Sight Institute put on this valuable information day to assist families and young people affected by vision loss as they face the challenges and complexities of being diagnosed with eye disease at a young age.”
About the QBE Foundation:
The QBE Foundation is a global initiative to help QBE Insurance give back to the communities in which we operate. Launched in 2011, the Foundation formalises QBE’s long history of community involvement and corporate giving into a structured, global approach. The Foundation’s core philosophy is to ‘Help people overcome disadvantage, strengthen their abilities and live more independently, successfully and productively.’ QBE Australia and New Zealand supports the community through volunteering and also provides philanthropic support.