Thursday 2 July, 2020

JWN Foundation, Optical Elements give Jamaal a brighter view

Jamaal Muirhead (left), gets his eyes tested by Peta-Gay McDonald, Optometrist, at Optical Elements, Half Way Tree Road in Kingston..

Jamaal Muirhead (left), gets his eyes tested by Peta-Gay McDonald, Optometrist, at Optical Elements, Half Way Tree Road in Kingston..

Due to the vision of the J. Wray & Nephew Foundation and Optical Elements, 14-year-old Jamaal Muirhead will get a much brighter view on education.

This is the product of a recent alliance between the JWN Foundation - which has Education as one of its underlying pillars - and eyewear specialists, Optical Elements, to provide the teen with a pair of eyeglasses.

Jamaal’s story tells the irony of disappointment turning to good; given his unsuccessful application for one of the scholarships offered annually by the JWNF to secondary and tertiary students who live in communities surrounding JWN’s business operations in Kingston, Clarendon and St Elizabeth, to him receiving eyeglasses to correct disabilities in sight, and by extension, learning.

“Jamaal marginally missed out earning one of our yearly academic scholarships. At the time, we did not realise the effects of sight on his ability to learn, until he wrote to us and outlined the challenges. Consequently, we felt compelled to aid this young man, who had articulated his need so well,” said Tanikie McClarthy Allen, JWNF CEO and JWN’s Senior Director, Public Affairs & Sustainability.

McClarthy Allen noted that they set about establishing a partner and Optical Elements proved a willing ally.

“It’s always a pleasure to help persons in need and helping young people is extra special, as they have their whole lives full of opportunities, ahead of them,” said  Peta-Gay McDonald, Optometrist, Optical Elements, which is based on Half Way Tree Road in Kingston.

McDonald added: “Needless to say, the gift of sight is immeasurable and we treasure being able to assist. Jamaal was so affable and it was really heartwarming for us as we interacted with him and his mother.”

Jamaal Muirhead (second left) is joined by his mother Jadine Boothe (centre); Peta-Gay McDonald (left), Optometrist, Samara South (second right) corporate social responsibility specialist and Ricardo Anderson, public affairs department intern at JWN.  

The Denbigh High School student has been plagued by short-sightedness from Primary school.

“From he was in primary school in Grade 5 he has always told me that his eye is giving him problems, but because I don’t have the money I couldn’t address it,” noted his mom, Jadine Boothe. “I’m a single parent and it’s not easy on me. Some things he requires he doesn’t get.”

Jadine has another son, Jermaine, a sixth former at Garvey Maceo High, and noted her commitment to their education.

“It’s not easy. Anything I have I give them to go to school. I’m thankful for the glasses. It eases a lot of pressure,” she said. “I’m trying with them, I want them to succeed.”

Jamaal expressed feeling overwhelmed that the likely improvements in sight will bring to his education.

“I’m very happy because sometimes it’s difficult for me to see, so it’s a kind of improvement for me, it’s an upliftment for me,” said a grateful Jamaal, who hails from Gimmi-Mi-Bit, within the JWN’s New Yarmouth Estate environs, in Clarendon.

“Sometimes I cannot see well on the board (blackboard) and sometimes the teacher is going fast and sometimes because of the board size they have to rub it off and sometimes I miss some notes,” said Jamaal, explaining difficulties he has faced in the classroom.

He added: “My lowest grades are in English, that’s my weakness because English includes a lot of reading, so I think the glasses will help me improve that.”

Now that his eyes have been fitted with corrective lens, Jamaal outlined: “I’ll be able to catch the notes quicker. Sometimes when they give the notes they explain it, so now I’ll be able to understand it more.”

Jamaal added: “I would like to tell the J. Wray & Nephew Foundation and Optical Elements that I appreciate it and I will do well and I want to thank them also because it will help me a lot. I don’t know what I’d do without it, so I want to thank them very much.”

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