Excitement and laughter filled the air as athletes with intellectual disabilities and their families visited booth after booth of games testing visual acuity, visual memory, depth perception, color vision and eye tracking at “Eye Can Play: A Healthy Eyeffair.” The event was sponsored by Essilor Vision Foundation, one of the philanthropic giving initiatives of Essilor, the world’s leading ophthalmic optics company.
Held at SM Sucat Entertainment Hall, “Eye Can Play” specifically used an “edutainment” approach to help Special Olympics athletes, their caregivers and their families learn more about the importance of healthy vision through interactive and engaging games. After undergoing quick vision screenings with Essilor volunteers, excited participants played “Pop the Bubble”, “Twister”, “Name It Quick”, ‘Finding Nemo”, “Finding Dory”, “Catch the Marble” and “Eye Can See”.
Brina Maxino and Sashi Montaña, the founders of “Eye Can Play”, saw the need for Filipino athletes with intellectual disabilities to test their eyes as good vision can affect not only their sport scores but also their overall quality of life. The two teens, who are part of the Special Olympics Philippine team, also envisioned the event as a venue to encourage people with intellectual disabilities to excel in sports and games. They presented the project at the 2015 Social Impact Summit, held during the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, California that same year, where it earned a spot in the Top 5 out of 70 proposals.
“Essilor and Essilor Vision Foundation feel passionately that healthy vision is fundamental for every individual,” stated Essilor marketing manager Jinky Navo. “Our mission is to improve people’s lives by improving their sight, for everyone and everywhere. In line with this objective, we want to help people with intellectual disabilities to see the world better so that they can achieve more and aim higher, which is what some of the athletes have already done at the Special Olympics ” she added.
Special Olympics Philippines executive director Kaye Samson remarked, “We believe that youth leaders, through the examples of Brina and Sashi, can be powerful advocates in leading behavioural change in the society towards accepting and respecting our fellow Filipinos who have intellectual disabilities.” She added, “We also thank our friends from Essilor and Essilor Vision Foundation in supporting this event by setting up a booth and deploying a team of volunteers to check our athletes eyesight.”