‘Play Day’ Initiative Marks Success for Second Year

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By Catherine Wolinski: Assistant Editor


 

 A Minnesota meet-up on Aug. 3 at Twin Cities’ Como Park brought together several families, with 40 participants in total.
MADISON, Wis.—Proving its robust following and reasserting a meaningful message to ECPs and the public nationwide, the Great Glasses Play Day (GGPD) returned this year in the first week of August to celebrate pediatric eye health and increase confidence and awareness among glasses-wearing children and their families.

On Aug. 4, the fun-loving campaign attracted hundreds of visitors to events in 17 cities, including 16 in the U.S. and one in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Last year, seven cities participated.

The initiative gained support from several eyecare industry organizations, including the American Optometric Association, Children’s Eye Foundation and Prevent Blindness Wisconsin, and called on optical retailers to participate by posting flyers, offering discounts and hosting kid-friendly activities.

“This is a grassroots event and movement,” said Great Glasses Play Day co-founder Kristin Ellsworth, creator of Peeps Eyewear, a kids’ eyeglasses brand designed to boost children’s self-esteem. Ellsworth partnered with “mommy blogger” Ann Zawistoski, founder of Little Four Eyes, an online community created by Zawistoski to connect family and friends of children who have glasses or other vision corrections.

 
 Philadelphia’s Franklin Square hosted 18 attendees. Pictured: Charlotte and Garret Wismer, age 8 and 2.

“It was a true DIY event,” she said. According to Ellsworth, parents, caregivers and optical retailers arranged “meet-ups” online to plan the in-person celebrations, a feat made possible by the enthusiastic social media presence surrounding the campaign. “The Great Glasses Play Day Facebook page now has about 450 followers, and our most popular post this weekend reached over 1,300 people. There was a lot of tweeting going on as well,” said Ellsworth referring to the @GreatGlassesDay Twitter handle, which chronicled events and planning, as did the #GreatGlassesDay and #GGPD hashtags.

Pre-event, the Twitter and Facebook communities also served as platforms for practitioners, parents and public advocates to sign up and take part in education efforts on the importance early eye exams. A YouTube video illustrating the campaign presence and message was also posted on various platforms, including the campaign’s website, greatglassesplayday.com.

Optical retailers were encouraged to arrange and promote their own events within their communities, and one such participant, Bright Eyes Family Vision Care in Tampa, Fla., joined the initiative for the second year.


 

 GGPD attendees enjoyed activity areas like this one in Dallas, Texas. Here, 20-month-old Molly Moulton plays at the Imagination Playground at Klyde Warren Park.
“I absolutely plan on doing it annually,” said owner Nate Bonilla-Warford, OD, who described his practice as “significantly pediatric.” Although many of his young patients are not glasses-wearers, he said, the initiative aligned with the GGPD mission by celebrating “pediatric eyecare in general.” Features of Bonilla-Warford’s event included a glasses-themed coloring contest, a balloon artist and tables of school supplies.

“It was really a great success, based on feedback from parents,” he said. “I think we were pretty creative, and we’re certainly looking at ways to make it better next year.”

Another major participant was Dallas Youth Optical in Dallas, Texas.

After marking their second-year success, Great Glasses Play Day event organizers and partakers are optimistic about future turnout.

“We have already begun thinking about how to get more support for next year,” Ellsworth said. “It’s such a rewarding, parent-organized event, and it couldn’t have been done without the support of the optical community getting the word out.” ■

cwolinski@jobson.com