Imagine going to school and being unable to properly see the board, your textbooks or your homework instructions...odds are students will have difficulties learning if they cannot see!
According to a study done by Johns Hopkins University, about one in four children will need glasses. Unfortunately, in low-income areas, many children who need glasses are not able to receive them due to a multitude of barriers. Children who need glasses but do not receive them are more likely to struggle academically and be flagged for behavioral issues.
United Way of Erie County recognizes that less-than-optimal vision is a serious barrier to learning. That is why through community schools we have partnered with Vision To Learn, a mobile vision clinic that brings vision screenings, eye exams and glasses directly to children at their schools at no cost to the children or their families. Students who failed their initial vision screenings at school will be seen by Vision To Learn’s optometrist for a full eye exam and will receive a prescription for glasses if necessary. Students can choose from a wide selection of frames and each student receives two pairs of glasses covered under a warranty.
“The clinic team remarked to me just how significant the vision issues were they saw in Erie,” said Mark Scaramuzzi, Director of Vision To Learn in the Ohio and Western/Central PA region. “We do this every day, but we have consistently seen such a density of high vision needs any time we have been in Erie are on pace with any community I have worked with. It’s truly humbling to get to have this kind of impact for kids.”
So far, 66 children at three United Way community schools have received new glasses thanks to Vision To Learn in 2023: 18 at Edison Elementary, 24 at Harding Elementary and 24 at Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary.
A fifth-grade Harding Elementary student said he felt like he was in a dream after putting on a pair of glasses for the first time ever.
“The response we get from community school directors, principals and school nurses regarding the ease of working with the program is a huge win for us at United Way and for students,” said Jeanette Long, United Way’s Community Schools Support Manager who helped coordinate Vision To Learn’s most recent visits. “We are thankful for the good work Vision To Learn is doing and expect to see our partnership with them continue to thrive.”
The Vision To Learn team will distribute glasses to students at three more community schools to include Diehl Elementary, McKinley Elementary and Grover Cleveland Elementary this week. For McKinley and Grover Cleveland, this is their first ever Vision To Learn experience. United Way looks forward to continuing our partnership with Vision To Learn in the upcoming school year to make sure that all students get the vision care they need to succeed.