Solicitor fights for school’s sight loss campaign

In 1982 Sinead Kane was born in Youghal, Co. Cork with just five per cent vision and was registered as blind. However this was one obstacle that didn’t stop her from qualifying as Ireland’s first visually impaired solicitor in 2009.

Ms. Kane explained, “I was told by eye doctors that I would be totally blind by the time I would be 23 years old. I am 29 years old now so I am six years overdue. My childhood was a battle against adversity because I was constantly fighting the system to get appropriate needs and supports.”

Most of her life has been about triumph over adversity and fighting for what she believes. Now she has turned her attention and positive attitude to the cause of Fight for Sight and in particular its recent project; the production and distribution of an educational film called “Wally’s lucky day”.

In June 1984 Fight for Sight was founded in Waterford by Ophthalmologist Mr. Paddy Condon for the purpose of prevention of sight loss.

Following the occurrence of several serious industrial accidents in the South East of Ireland in the early 80’s involving, in particular, a number of young people losing their sight Mr. Condon decided that through education and resources many of these incidents could be prevented.

Since its establishment the Fight for Sight has raised more than €2 million through continuous fundraising programs and donations.

In 2010 Fight for Sight started plans to produce a film based upon the potential dangers for sight loss in everyday life for teenagers. Acclaimed and award winning playwright and director Jim Nolan was asked to write and direct the film.

Following the assistance of a number of groups including the talent of local teenage actors Wally’s Lucky Day was completed in spring 2011.

Wally’s Lucky Day is a thirty minute fictional film designed to encourage eye safety awareness amongst its target audience of young teenagers.

Wally is sixteen, he’s got a cold sore and he’s in love with the lovely Louise. Viewers are asked to join him on his lucky day; a day when despite the combined efforts of breakfast rolls, city traffic, scratch cards, welding machines, his cousin Ray and his mates Tom and Joe, absolutely nothing goes wrong. Then you see a few people who weren’t so lucky.

The film shows how simple daily activities can be dangerous for ones eyes. It is hard hitting and quite graphic towards the end of the film, but needs to be in order to make an impact on today’s teenage viewer. It is an original way of communicating to this age group and both Fight for Sight and Sinead Kane think is worth assisting.

Fight for Sight’s aim is to distribute this film to every secondary school in Ireland and is currently looking for sponsorship in order to assist with this plan.

Following Ms. Kane’s decision to help Fight for Sight she has learned that her connection with the charity goes back many years.

“My mother recently told me that Mr. Condon saw my grandmother back in the late 1970s and operated on her eyes. Also around that time he saw my mother and treated her eyes. When he realised that my mother had glaucoma he ordered that she get all her brothers and sisters down to Waterford straight away to be checked for Glaucoma.

In 1980 my mother gave birth to my sister Aisling. My mother was so impressed by Mr. Condon’s caring nature that she brought my sister at 6 weeks old to see him. I was born just before the Fight for Sight charity was set up and as a baby my mother also brought me to Mr. Condon.

The wheel seems to be coming full circle. Mr Condon has assisted generations of my family and now its time I assisted him and do whatever I can for his charity.”

Wally’s Lucky Day was officially premiered and launched at the Greyfriars Gallery in Waterford City on Thursday November 10th 2011. It is Fight for Sight’s plan to distribute the film to every secondary school in the country in the New Year.