Several Victorian Specsavers store partners recently visited The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) to see how funds they had raised through the Specsavers Community Program had been invested.

Over the past four years, 23 of Specsavers’ Victorian stores have raised more than $100,000 for the RCH Foundation. The funds have been used to support a wide range of RCH’s services but most recently to invest in a Tobii Eye Gaze device.

The Tobii Eye Gaze device is a speech-generating machine that allows non-verbal patients to communicate through the movement of their eyes. Speech generation from the device is said to help non-verbal children feel more socially connected with family, friends and peers, and contribute to their learning development. Once trained on the device, the children who have used it in the hospital are ready to use the eye gaze technology at home.

Representatives from the participating Specsavers stores as well as from the Specsavers Support Office attended the unveiling of the device on 20 October 2017, where they also learned more about how their donations would be assisting the hospital.

The Tobii Eye Gaze machine

Giovina Cicchitti, Corporate Engagement Manager for the RCH Foundation, said, “Thanks to the generosity of [the Specsavers stores and their] customers, the RCH Foundation has supported the purchase of a Tobii Eye Gaze Device, an incredible piece of technology that’s changing lives.

“Giving children who are unable to speak a voice is incredible and means the hospital can deliver the life-changing care they rely on. We are very thankful to Specsavers stores in Victoria for fundraising for the RCH Foundation.”

Natalie Weekly, Speech Pathologist with the Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service at the RCH, added, “I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of young patients using the Tobii Eye Gaze device as part of their rehabilitation and it’s truly remarkable to see the improvement in their communication and interaction with loved ones and peers.”

Specsavers Mornington’s store partner, Helen Chung, said her team had enjoyed fundraising for the RCH Foundation through the Specsavers Community Program.

“We are thrilled to give Specsavers customers the opportunity to help us give back to our local community through the Specsavers Community Program,” she said. “The work the RCH Foundation does is so important in improving health outcomes for children. I’m so pleased the funds we raised have been used for something that’s going to make such a difference to the lives of non-verbal children. Devices like the Tobii Eye Gaze really highlight the necessity for good eyesight as well, something we are passionate about.”

As part of the Specsavers Community Program, Specsavers stores across Australia partner with both a local charity partner, such as the RCH Foundation, and national charity partner The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Customers are provided with a token representing a donation for each pair of glasses purchased at Specsavers. Customers can then use the token to select which charity they would like to support and a subsequent donation is made by the store.

The Specsavers store partners with the Tobii Eye Gaze machine