Organization to Provide Free Eye Exams and Glasses to Students in Grand Rapids Public Schools
22 children at Aberdeen PK-8th School tried on their new eyeglasses this morning as part of an event celebrating a collaboration between non-profit provider Vision To Learn, Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS), and the Kent County Health Department (KCHD).
An estimated 3,000 children in Grand Rapids go to school every day without the glasses they need to see the board, read a book, or participate in class. Through this collaboration, every student in GRPS will be provided a vision screening, eye exam, and – if needed – a pair of glasses, free of charge.
“Children who have trouble seeing often struggle in class, yet many students lack access to basic vision care,” said Vision To Learn President Ann Hollister. “By bringing free eye exams to kids at school, Vision To Learn helps them get the glasses they need to succeed.”
GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal and KCHD Division Director for Community Wellness Joann Hoganson participated in the launch event on Thursday. At the event, 22 PK-8th grade students tried on their glasses for the first time.
“It’s rare that a single intervention can make such an immediate and meaningful difference in a student’s education,” said Superintendent Weatherall Neal. “Through this program, students who need glasses will get glasses – and as a result, they’ll do better at school.”
Vision screenings for students in Grand Rapids Public Schools and 18 other school districts, plus private and charter schools, are provided by Kent County Health Department. KCHD Division Director for Community Wellness Joann Hoganson said, “Our vision screening staff identifies kids throughout the County who need eye exams, but often those students don’t end up seeing an optometrist. This program brings the services to kids where they are every day – at school.”
Aberdeen PK-8th School is the first GRPS school to be served by this effort. In the past month, 174 students were provided with vision screenings, 35 students (20%) received eye exams, and 22 were prescribed and provided glasses.
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.
About Grand Rapids Public SchoolsGrand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) is Michigan’s seventh largest public school district and the third largest employer in the City of Grand Rapids, serving nearly 17,000 students with 2,700 employees, including 1,100 dedicated teachers. The student population represents 55 countries with 54 different languages spoken, creating a value-added educational experience and benefit that is above and beyond a basic education.
About Kent County Health Department
KCHD has been in the business of providing health services to Kent County since 1931. The Health Department is home to nearly 265 employees including public health nurses, sanitarians, health educators, technicians, public health administrators, and specialized staff at the Kent County Animal Shelter. The Health Department operates one main clinic and three satellite clinics located in Kentwood, Rockford, and Grand Rapids. To learn more about KCHD services, visit https://www.accesskent.com/Health.