One in four primary age children in Singapore suffer from myopia and this proportion increases exponentially over childhood years – affecting as many as 70% of young people by age 16. Slowing the progression of myopia in Singapore is seen as critical to avoid the risks of severe myopia and potential blindness.
A group of Singaporean communication students took up this challenge devising a fun and educational way to get an important message about myopia across to parents. Their campaign – SEEK Singapore (Stop the Eye Epidemic in Kids) – aimed to encourage families to spend more time playing outside as a simple and effective way to combat early childhood myopia.
We engaged over 1200 people through our SEEK events. In a follow-up survey nearly 89% said they would increase the time that their kids spent outdoors
Evonne Ong was one of four students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University behind the campaign.
“Our biggest challenge was to get parents more concerned about myopia as a health issue because myopia is rampant in Singapore. Most parents know how to fight myopia but are not actively doing so. Throughout our entire campaign, we focused on raising awareness in a fun way and providing activities that would be motivating for parents and children.”
SEEK set out to educate, engage and empower families in Singapore to spend more time outside. “Working with eye care experts from Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) and Essilor R&D, we put together the facts about myopia and how to slow its progression,” adds Evonne. “Building on an educational website, brochures and videos, we visited kindergartens and shopping malls and launched social media competitions to start the conversation with parents and children. The highlight of the campaign was a series of activity booklets brought to life through family events in four parks across Singapore.”
The Seeker’s Trail booklets include a range of fun outdoor activities for children under the age of seven and their parents as well as ainformation about myopia. Measuring impact was also a key part of the campaign explains Evonne. “We engaged over 1200 people through our SEEK events. In a follow-up survey nearly 89% said they would increase the time that their kids spent outdoors.”
SEEK Singapore was supported by Essilor R&D, the Singapore Eye Research Institute, the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, Health Promotion Board and National Parks Board. “The Essilor team was really supportive throughout the campaign,” says Evonne. “They gave us valuable inputs that made our research more rigorous and campaign messages clearer. And they encouraged us to be creative – to work with four young budding artists on the activity booklets.”