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IVI ‘Walk in the Dark’ at IIT-Madras festival draws children, citizens together to raise awareness about avoidable blindness

The IIT-Madras campus today witnessed scores of visually impaired children lead the way in a one of its kind ‘Walk in the Dark’ to raise awareness about vision health and refractive error, a major cause of avoidable blindness in India. The Walk, organised by India Vision Institute (IVI} and co-hosted by IIT-Madras’ BLINK Shaastra 2020 festival, included prominent Chennai citizens led by Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, K Pandiarajan, Australia’s Consul General in Chennai, Susan Grace, Ma Foi Foundation Managing Trustee Latha Pandiarajan, IVI CEO Vinod Daniel, and Anup Kumar, Director, Sales, The Ascott Limited. The visually impaired and blind children, drawn from St Louis Institute for the Deaf and Blind, Adyar, led blindfolded participants, showing the remarkable way they overcome their disability and challenge. Students from local Optometry colleges and institutes also took part in the Walk that started from the IIT-Madras’ CLT Complex and ended at Himalaya Mess. Some 300 blind and visually challenged children, Optometry and IIT students and faculty, and prominent citizens took part in the Walk, IVI’s Walk in the Dark campaigns have previously been held in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Kolkata and Aizawl (Mizoram). This is the second IVI organised ‘Walk in the Dark’ in Chennai. Mr Pandiarajan said, “I am delighted to take part in the Walk. I am aware of IVI's commitment and work in community service and their programs in preventable blindness are praiseworthy. My constituency, Avadi, particularly the underprivileged community and children, have benefited from IVI’s activities." IVI CEO and Managing Trustee Vinod Daniel said, “Minister Pandiarajan has been a strong supporter of IVI’s initiatives, including our Eye See & I Learn and Eye See & I Work campaigns. The Ma Foi Foundation, which was founded by Mr Pandiarajan, has worked for community good and his participation in today’s Walk recognises his strong commitment to social causes.” "Through Walk in the Dark campaigns, IVI raises awareness about preventable blindness issues. I thank all participants who participated in the Walk. A special thanks to the students of IIT for co-hosting the Walk as part of the Shaastra 2020 festival, which also included an IVI vision screening for employees and families of IIT Madras on December 28. The enthusiasm of everyone at the Walk is welcome and will encourage IVI to take up activities for meeting challenges with greater vigour," Mr Daniel noted. Australia's Consul General in Chennai, Susan Grace, said "the IVI awareness campaigns across India will go a long way in spreading the message of avoidable blindness and of the need for refractive screenings. I commend the good work being done by IVI." Through its BLINK initiative, Shaastra 2020 has focused on impacting the lives of visually challenged persons. IVI provides access to vision screening and a pair of glasses to the needy. Till date, IVI has organised 670 vision screening programs in and around Chennai and other cities in Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Mizoram, New Delhi, Odisha, Pondicherry, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal. Over 262,895 individuals from the underprivileged communities (including over 200,726 children) were screened and free spectacles were distributed to 42,816 individuals (including 21,962 children). About India Vision Institute (IVI) India Vision Institute is an independent, not-for-profit registered trust established in India in 2012. Initiated to advance Optometry, through our extensive activities and programs, including vision screenings across India’s far corners, IVI has made a mark with many achievements. Our approach to advance Indian Optometry has been through awareness generation, capacity building, leadership development, and promoting the research culture. For prevention of avoidable blindness, IVI has worked through timely intervention in providing access to vision screenings and provision of free spectacles in disadvantaged communities and remote areas. Our Eye See & I Learn and Eye See & I Work campaigns reach out to these key constituencies where services are lacking and most required – notably children and adults. (www.indiavisioninstitute.org ) About BLINK and Shaastra BLINK is a social initiative that aims to empower and enable visually handicapped students and adults to forge their own path and achieve success in their lives and careers. The endeavour comprises a series of social inclusion activities like personality development, drama, self-defence and also proficiently designed 3-D printed interactive toys that revolutionize Braille education for visually impaired kids. BLINK is a part of Shaastra, the annual technical fest of IIT Madras, which, with Socure as the title sponsors, would take place from 3rd to 6th January 2020 and include workshops, events, shows, and exhibitions. For media enquiries, contact Shekhar Nambiar, +919810154167