Mississippi First Lady Deborah Bryant, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Percy (Master P) Miller, Vision To Learn Founder Austin Beutner, and Jackson Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Freddrick Murray Voice Support For Initiative to Provide Free Eye Exams and Glasses to Jackson Students.
It was a big day for students at Oak Forest Elementary School today, as they were wowed by two exceptional opportunities: Not only did they receive their new glasses, but they also had the help of music mogul and philanthropist Percy (Master P) Miller as they tried on their new glasses.
The event is part of a broader initiative by Vision To Learn, a non-profit charity that helps kids across the country by providing free eye exams and glasses.
Thursday’s event marks the completion of Vision To Learn’s first year helping kids in Jackson Public Schools and celebrates the initiative’s growing impact. To date, the nonprofit has provided more than 1,360 students with eye exams and more than 1,200 with glasses in the district.
Guests include Mississippi First Lady Deborah Bryant, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Jackson Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Freddrick Murray, Vision To Learn Founder Austin Beutner, and Vision To Learn-Mississippi Director Gayle Wicker.
“Children in Jackson are coming to school every day unable to see the board or read a book, and they have trouble engaging in the classroom,” said Vision To Learn Founder Austin Beutner. “With the help of supporters like Master P, Vision To Learn will continue working to help every child get the glasses needed to succeed in school, and in life.”
“Mississippi is leading the way in addressing health issues that impact students’ school performance,” said Mississippi First Lady Deborah Bryant. “Vision To Learn’s program is an easy intervention that gives students a big leg up.”
An estimated two million students in the U.S. lack the glasses they need at school, and in Jackson, that number is around 5,000. Founded in 2012 in Los Angeles, Vision To Learn now provides eye exams and glasses to children in low-income communities in 242 cities in 12 states.
“When students have trouble seeing at school, they can’t do their best,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. Providing students with the tools they need, such as glasses, can improve their performance in the classroom and foster full participation in the learning process.”
At Oak Forest Elementary, 361 students were provided with vision screenings, and 21% needed glasses. 91 students received eye exams, and 76 were provided with glasses. “We’ve helped almost 1,400 kids in Jackson since launching the program last fall, and we’re on our way to help 4,000 more in the upcoming school year,” said Gayle Wicker, Vision To Learn’s Mississippi Director. “Our students deserve to come to school equipped to learn.”
Research by faculty from the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA about students who received glasses from Vision To Learn showed the students’ grades improved and they were more engaged in the classroom. Students with untreated vision problems often struggle at school, and they are less likely to achieve reading proficiency by third grade, putting them at greater risk of dropping out.
Master P helped motivate the students by sharing his personal journey at Thursday’s event. “When I was asked by Austin to join Vision To Learn and help this worthy cause, I knew immediately I wanted to jump in and do my part. I share Austin’s vision on the importance of providing children with the tools they need to succeed,” said Miller.
Vision To Learn’s program in Jackson is supported by Jim and Donna Barksdale, Ambassador John Palmer, Philip Stephenson Foundation, C Spire Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Mississippi Optometric Association and Essilor Vision Foundation.