A band including partially sighted children from Newtownabbey have helped to launch a guide for parents of children with sight problems.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People Northern Ireland (RNIB NI) recently launched its ‘Looking ahead: a parent’s guide’ for parents of children who are blind or partially sighted at an event at Belfast City Hall.
There are 2,346 children and young people aged 0-25 who have sight loss in Northern Ireland.
The RNIB currently supports eight hundred children and their families. Last year, over one hundred new families contacted their Children and Families service for practical and emotional support.
The new guide is intended to act as a ‘roadmap’ of services that parents and children may encounter throughout their sight loss journey.
One of the families to receive support were the Dicksons from Newtownabbey, whose three children Ryan,10, Kyle, 8 and Emma, 5 all suffer from sight loss.
During the recent guide launch, the boys formed as part of ‘Evie and the Short Straws,’ a band of children with sight loss performing pop songs with guitars, drums, keyboards and bass.
The band, with Ryan on keyboard and Kyle on drums, opened with Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ and closed on a high with Bruno Mars’ ‘Marry You’. Special guest on the day was RNIB NI Committee member and supporter Andrea Begley.
Recalling her first encounter with RNIB NI’s Children and Families Service in 2011, their mum Joanne commented: “The warm welcome and invaluable information we received from the RNIB NI staff at that first event led me to attend Parents and Tots activities with Emma, my youngest.
“Since then we’ve been to many family weekend residentials, fun days and other popular family attractions throughout Northern Ireland.
“These events allow families affected by sight loss to come together, learn, and share experiences whilst having a lot of fun. “
Rosaleen Dempsey, RNIB NI Children and families service manager, said, “Our guide offers parents a useful starting point for answering some common questions, we have designed it to be user friendly and easy to understand. The guide is full of hints and tips, information and useful contacts and will be particularly useful to parents following the initial diagnosis of their child’s eye condition.”
To request a copy of the guide or for any additional information, contact the RNIB’s Children and families service on 028 9032 9373 or email email@example.com