Kaneohe — Hawaii Governor Ige joined Lieutenant General Bryan P. Fenton, Deputy Commander, U. Pacific Command, and Vision To Learn Founder Austin Beutner to celebrate an initiative providing thousands of Hawaii public school students with free vision care, through a collaboration between Vision To Learn, Project Vision Hawaii, and the Castle Foundation. The effort, launched December 15th at Ben Parker Elementary School, will provide about 6,000 kids with free vision screenings, and over 700 with eye exams and glasses throughout Windward Oahu.
As many as 20,000 kids in Hawaii go to school every day without the glasses they need to see the board, read a book or participate in the classroom. In order to address this issue, Project Vision Hawaii will provide vision screenings to every child in 17 Windward public schools and Vision To Learn will provide each child who does not pass the screening with an eye exam, and every child who needs glasses will receive them all free of charge.
“We’re delighted to provide kids in Hawaii the glasses they need to succeed in school and in life,” said Vision To Learn Founder and Chairman, Austin Beutner. “We look forward to working with Governor Ige, Mayor Caldwell, Hawaii Public Schools, and Project Vision to help kids in Hawaii.”
“As a longtime provider of vision screenings to students in Hawaii, Project Vision Hawaii knows that thousands of HIDOE students need an eye exam and glasses. This partnership will help those students get the help they need,” said Annie Valentin CEO of Project Vison Hawaii.
The initiative is supported by funding in part from the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, City and County of Honolulu, and the State of Hawaii.
“This program will help ensure that our students have all of the tools they need to succeed in the classroom,” said Governor Ige. “Through efforts like these, we can help thousands more students obtain the glasses they need to thrive in the new Hawaii economy.”
Students with untreated vision problems often struggle at school, and are less likely to achieve reading proficiency by third grade, putting them at greater risk of dropping out.
The centerpiece of Friday’s launch event was students receiving and trying on their glasses for the first time. Ben Parker Elementary is the first school to be served by this effort, which will help kids at 17 schools in Windward Oahu; since 2015 Vision To Learn and Project Vision Hawaii began working together in Hawaii in more than 15,000 students were screened and 18% were found to have a potential vision problem. Twenty-three students received eye exams on November 16th, and 21 were prescribed glasses.
About Vision To Learn
Vision To Learn started with one van in Los Angeles in 2012, and now helps kids in 10 states and low-income communities in more than 200 cities from Honolulu to Baltimore. Vision To Learn serves the needs of the hardest-to-reach children; more than 89% of kids served by Vision To Learn live in poverty and 87% are kids of color. Since its inception, Vision To Learn has helped screen over 500,000 students, provided almost 100,000 with eye exams, and almost 80,000 with glasses, all free of charge.
About Project Vision Hawaii
Project Vison Hawaii, a Hawaii based nonprofit organization, eliminates poor vision as a barrier to children’s success in school and in life. The Project Vision Hawaii comprehensive vision program is quickly becoming known as the gold standard for identifying children with undetected vision problems, particularly in schools and preschools. Detecting vision problems early is the first step in providing life-changing services to children sitting in classrooms unable to see workbooks and white boards clearly. For more information about Project Vision Hawaii, visit: www.projectvisionhawaii.org