The Coca-Cola Company believes young people have an indispensable role in shaping their local communities, countries and world. This exclusive series highlights the semifinalist Global Shaper projects who are competing to win five $10,000 prizes as part of the 2016 Coca-Cola Shaping a Better Future Grant Challenge for the Global Shapers Community. Here we highlight the work of the Chandigarh, India Hub.

Many underprivileged children in India do not have access to health care. Roughly 50 percent of the country's population requires, but cannot afford, medical services.

The project Shaping Vision aims to provide free eye care to students from underprivileged backgrounds. Most urban school children in India wear glasses, yet few kids from rural areas do. In India, 41% of young people under 18 need corrective vision treatment, but lack access or funds. Many don’t realize they need treatment because they have never had a vision exam.

When left undetected, weak eyesight is often mistaken as a child’s inability to read and write. Here is where we at Global Shapers Chandigarh Hub are stepping in. We have partnered with vision specialists, hospitals and eyeglass vendors, and collaborated with the National Service Scheme (NSS) to build a model outreach program for rural areas outside for vision treatment. Our goal is to boost academic achievement through proper vision care. These young people are the future of India, and it’s our job to build them a better future.

Not a lot of people are aware of the negative consequences of undetected weak vision. For example, if weak eyesight is not corrected in time, it can lead to a loss of sight or permanent blindness. Weak eyesight also can cause headaches, which can lead to migraines. And worst of all, if a child ends his or her education early, their career options are few. In many cases, children who struggle with illiteracy have a vision problem. This impacts their ability to read and write, and they can be incorrectly labeled as unintelligent and, as a result, fall behind and even drop out.

Here's how our process works. First, students are prompted to read an eye chart from a standard distance. Those who are not able to are screened and, if needed, prescribed lenses.

So far, we have examined 5,400 students in five schools, with 10 more in the pipeline. A total of 990 students were deterined to need spectacles, which our program provded free of change. Additionally, our project is being replicated by Global Shaper Hubs in Hubli, Chennai, Coimbatore and Jakarta.

Global Shapers Chandigarh Hub

Our team is comprised of: Munish Jauhar (Founding Curator), Nehmat Kaur, Maninder Bajwa, Varun Kashyap, Kshitij Mehra, Simarpreet Singh, Jaideep Bansal, Neelima Raheja, Rubina Singh, Monika, Muskaan Maharia, Pulkit Aggarwal, Arvind Vairavan, Amanveer Singh, Manish and Amanbir Ahluwalia

The bedrock principle the Chandigarh hub established was respecting and leveraging the capabilities of all the Shapers. With a common goal to serve the community, passionate Shapers worked selflessly with all stakeholders to gain a very holistic view of the challenge and develop an effective solution. It was a truly inspiring and life-changing experience to work with such an incredible group of people. As Dr. Klaus Schwab put it so aptly, it is about "binding, bonding and building", and that is what precisely happened with "Shaping Vision." The project brings a piece of every Shaper with it – whether it is the way it relates to youth or in the way it relates to those in need. We all gave a part of ourselves to this work and hope it can bring amazing change to the lives of others.

Next Steps

With the $10,000 grant, we aim to reach out to more schools in neighboring cities and states and impacting more lives. We plan to partner with more eye hospitals and ophthalmologists and create charts and booklets to educate students about eye care. We also plan to provide eye drops to students to help normalize their weak vision without glasses.

Our focus is also on expansion. We will start by following up the schools already covered after 14 months. We will reach out to schools in neighboring cities and states and help other Global Shapers implement the "Shaping Vision" misison. Finally, we will promote our project through advertising and publicity at medical events and conferences.