I want all children to realize their full potential: Author Kenneth Youngstein
Author Kenneth Youngstein’s book—The Singing Tree dwells upon on the issue of refractive error among childrenmore lifestyle Updated: Oct 24, 2017 10:50 IST
In India 9.3 Million Children are visually impaired and 270,000 of them are Blind,” says author Kenneth Youngstein. His book, The Singing Tree comes from his personal experience and talks about a child who cannot see the birds assuming that the songs she heard were sung by the tree under which she spends her time. It emphasises on the problem of refractive error among children which leads to their inability to play or participate in school leading to isolation.
Previously published in local languages for children in South Africa, Zambia and Cameroon, Orbis, an international non-profit has adapted the book to use in its programme to reach 4.5 million school children and test for refractive error. “I started wearing spectacles when I was five years old, and about to begin school. My mother often told me how, when I left the optician with new spectacles, I looked up in the sky and shouted, ‘Mommy, look…birds’. It transformed my life.When Orbis India declared their interest to use the book as part of their Reach programme – to test the eyes of 4.5 million school children, I jumped at the opportunity,” says Kenneth, who has spent forty years developing health education programmes for professionals and patients throughout the world.
“The Singing Tree is a tool, to help educate children, their parents and their teachers poor vision is a problem that must be corrected if they want their children to reach their full potential in life”—Kenneth Youngstein
The book of illustrations, delivers its messages in a story that appeals to readers of all age groups.It was distributed to 75,000 children free of cost to spread awareness on visual impairment, easy identification and treatment, at an event in Delhi recently. Speaking on the inspiration behind the book, the author says, “There are still too many children whose lives could be improved by wearing corrective lenses. It seems so obvious and so simple, but it is not. The Singing Tree is a tool, to help educate children, their parents and their teachers poor vision is a problem that must be corrected if they want their children to reach their full potential in life. The educational system must recognize that detecting vision problems in children should be an integrated part of their mandate. Parents must recognize vision problems in their children, understand that it is important to correct these problems quickly, and know to access appropriate care. ”
And his wisdom to connect to the kids comes with the experience of working with children of several physical disabilities. He says, “I think the story of getting my first spectacles, at age five, was part of this. In my experience and knowledge children face very many challenges with reduced vision, which include social isolation, difficulty with common tasks and fear of ridicule by peers. I have worked, over the past 40 years, with children with many types of physical disabilities, many of whom suffer from being excluded from normal activities and have feelings of isolation. I am fortunate to have been able to get the help I needed, and I want all children to be able to realize their full potential.”
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