Students To Launch 'Kids For Sight' Campaign
Nyan and Lehka Pendyala, ages 8 and 6, will launch a kid-inspired and kid-driven campaign to increase awareness of unnecessary childhood blindness. Their ultimate goal is to raise $260,000 for a specialized pediatric eye care unit and training center in India, a project underway by ORBIS International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. To make their target, the siblings are counting on other kids around the country to join their "Kids for Sight" campaign and come up with creative ways to help save the sight of children whose vision is threatened by treatable or preventable eye diseases.
"In Sanskirt, my name means 'eyes' and 'vision.' I want to help blind children see their family and friends," said Nyan Pendyala. After he decided to forego gifts for his eighth birthday and request that donations go to ORBIS, his sister, Lehka, also stepped in to help. Her name means "line" and "writing" in Sanskrit. She noted, "If you can't see, you're going to have a hard time learning to read and write."
Nyan and Lehka, both students at Hampton's Central Elementary School in Allison Park, Penn., a suburb of Pittsburgh, will officially kick-off their "Kids for Sight" campaign in their respective classrooms on World Sight Day, which falls this year on Thursday, October 11th.
World Sight Day is a day set aside by the World Health Organization and member organizations of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, a global initiative that calls attention to the plight of 28 million people around the world who are needlessly blind. Of particular concern are the 1.4 million blind children, three-quarters of whom live in the poorest regions of Africa and Asia. The majority of the blind could have their vision restored, or blindness prevented altogether, if only they had access to appropriate eye care and timely medical interventions.
Inspired by the Pendyala siblings, Luke and Emma Dias, ages 9 and 5, from Madison, Wis. are making coasters in support of the "Kids for Sight" campaign and selling them from a make-shift driveway stand. Watching the Dias kids, neighbor Jacob Thomack, age 5, jumped in to help. To date, the Madison team has contributed $152 to the campaign with their sight set on donating more.
"The concept in the movie 'Pay it Forward' is happening before our very eyes," said Nyan and Lehka's father, Krishna Pendyala. "Once people got to know what they were doing, they started giving generously or began their own projects to help ORBIS save sight, even without Nyan and Lehka asking!"
The kids have selected an ORBIS pediatric eye care project in India as the beneficiary of their fundraising efforts. India, where the Pendyala family is from originally, is home to almost a fifth of the world's blind children and suffers from a severe lack of eye care professionals trained to treat children.
ORBIS will use the $260,000 contribution to support the Pediatric Ophthalmology Learning and Training Center at Sankara Nethralaya Eye Hospital in Chennai, where work is underway to train medical professionals in the early identification and treatment of pediatric eye diseases and to organize outreach camps in rural areas to screen children for low vision and other visual disorders. The funds will also help further research studies in the field of eye care and rehabilitation, especially as it relates to children, as well as support public awareness initiatives on the prevention of childhood blindness.
"What Nyan and Lehka are doing for ORBIS is magnificent," said Geoffrey Holland, executive director of ORBIS International. "At such a young age, their display of compassion is an inspiration to all of us. Their efforts will make it possible for so many children who are unnecessarily blind in India to see their parents perhaps for the first time."