Lens manufacturer Essilor has embarked on an education mission with neighbouring schools to its Thornbury site near Bristol, screening students to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye care while helping them learn how to design and build telescopes.
Essilor has manufactured lenses at its Thornbury site near Bristol for 42 years. The company is reaching out to local schools to help prepare pupils for employment while screening their eyes at the same time.
The lens manufacturer is working with Castle School in Thornbury and Marlwood School in Alveston, both in South Gloucestershire, sending in teams to screen hundreds of children, to see if they need a full eye examination.
Essilor managing director, Mike Kirkley, explained that the campaign is part of an eye care and health education awareness initiative among children, school staff and parents.
He said: “We are passionate about helping young children as we know that more than 90% of a child’s learning will be gained through sight.”
Mr Kirkley added: “Research shows that children with some form of visual correction needs do not achieve their full potential. We believe this should not happen anywhere, but certainly not here, in the UK, in 2016.”
In addition, the students are visiting Essilor’s Thornbury laboratory for weekly project work, learning how to produce a telescope, spyglass and forcimeter, as well as learning about optics, refraction and lens glazing.
Essilor’s head of quality, Pete Dodd, said: “Working with these young people is so inspiring. They do 80% of the design and production work themselves. With the telescope, we set them the task of working on a paper tube, then a plastic tube and the final stainless steel telescope.
“It’s amazing to see the transformation in them during the project and so encouraging to see them achieving and even exceeding their target school grades.”
“Many even came in to the laboratory during their own free time, wanting to work rather than kick a football around,” he added.
The company has also worked with Charfield Primary School where young children produced their own newspaper, the Charfield Chatter, interviewing Mr Kirkley and selling advertising space locally through cold calling.
The Charfield schoolchildren and Mr Kirkley were filmed for the regional BBC Points West programme at the Essilor facility. “The children were inspirational,” concluded Mr Kirkley.
Pictured (left to right) are Castle School pupils James Clarkson, Dan Young, Archie Griffiths and Adam Deverill, with teacher Rachel Beddoes.