School-Based Vision Health Initiative Will Provide K-12 Students throughout the Mahoning Valley
Region with Free Vision Screenings, Eye Exams and Prescription Glasses
The effort is a collaboration with Nouns DAO, Sight for All United and the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley
YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO – Vision To Learn launched efforts today to provide vision screenings, eye exams and glasses to children in Youngstown and the broader Mahoning Valley. Children will receive this help at no cost to the children at schools or their family. This effort builds on current Vision To Learn programs in Southeastern Ohio. Vision To Learn is the largest school-based provider of vision care in the nation and has helped more than two million children across the country.
An estimated 14,000 students in the Mahoning Valley go to school every day without the glasses they need to see the board, read a book, or participate in class. This effort will provide children with vision screenings, eye exams, and – if needed – a pair of prescription glasses, at no cost to the child or their family. More than 100 school children at Youngstown Community School were provided with glasses at today’s event.
Austin Beutner, Founder and Chairman of Vision To Learn said, “Vision To Learn has provided eye care to more than two million children across the country by working with local partners like Nouns DAO, Sight for All United and United Way.” He added, “Every child in every school, everywhere in the country should have the glasses they need to succeed in school and in life.”
Vision To Learn efforts in Youngstown and the broader Mahoning Valley are in partnership with Nouns DAO, Sight for All United and the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.
“Sight for All United has helped hundreds of students in the Mahoning Valley receive vision services and glasses,” said Dr. Sergul Erzurum, President of Sight for All United. “By partnering with Vision To Learn, we can now help thousands of children see clearly and provide this service for years to come. This collaboration makes a significant dent in correctable vision loss for our students and is a direct result of Sight for All’s mission to help our community see their best.”
“Our goal with our Success After 6 initiative is to break down barriers to success for our students and their families. We cannot do this alone, so this collaboration is so important to our mission,” said Bob Hannon, President of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. “By partnering with Sight for All United and Vision To Learn, we will ensure that kids in are community are not left behind simply because they lack of a pair of glasses.”
About one in four children, whether from a family with means or a family struggling to get by, will naturally need glasses. Children who need glasses and don’t have them are more likely to be misdiagnosed with behavioral issues in kindergarten, be considered “slow” learners by 5th grade, and to drop out of high school. Unfortunately, in low-income urban and rural communities, most children who need glasses don’t have them due to financial constraints, language barriers, unresponsive health bureaucracies or the simple fact there are no eye care professionals in their neighborhood. This program solves the problem by bringing the glasses to the kids where they are almost every day—their local neighborhood school.
Here’s how it works: Vision To Learn staff visit schools, and team up with classroom educators, school nurses and public health departments to make sure every child receives a vision screening. For children who don’t pass the screening, Vision To Learn vans, staffed with trained eye care professionals, visit schools to provide eye exams and glasses. All at no cost to the child or their family.
Founded in 2012, Vision To Learn has provided 2,043,717 children with eye care and more than 331,000 with glasses, in 15 states and the District of Columbia.
Youngstown Community School is the first visited by Vision To Learn in the Mahoning Valley. More than 325 students received vision screenings at the school, 128 were provided with eye exams, and 103 students with glasses.
“We know many children in our district do not have access to vision services and therefore don’t have the glasses they need to succeed in school and reach their highest potential,” said school Director Rachael Smith. “No child should go to school without the glasses they need to see the board.”
A groundbreaking study recently published in The Journal for the American Medical Association Ophthalmology by researchers from the Center for Research and Reform in Education and the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University shows the impact of providing glasses to children at schools. The researchers conducted the largest and most rigorous study in the U.S. to measure the impact of providing eyeglasses to students directly in their schools. Thousands of children from more than 100 schools in Baltimore participated in the study. Guess what? The children who received glasses did better in school and the impacts were greater than more costly measures such as lengthening the school day, providing computers, or creating charter schools. The children who showed the biggest gains, the equivalent of an additional four to six months of learning, are those who are often the hardest to help—students in the bottom quarter of their class academically and students with learning differences and disabilities.
This program is made possible thanks to the support of a long list of generous funders, including the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley and Nouns DAO.
About Vision To Learn
Vision To Learn, a non-profit charity, was founded in 2012 by Austin Beutner and the Beutner Family Foundation. The program has helped children in over 750 low-income communities in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Vision To Learn serves the needs of the hardest-to-reach children; about 90% of kids served by Vision To Learn live in poverty and about 85% are Black and Latino. Vision To Learn has provided 2,043,737 children with eye care and more than 330,000 with glasses – all at no cost to children or their families. This year another 100,000 children will be provided with glasses by Vision To Learn despite the challenge COVID-19 continues to present at schools. For more information on Vision To Learn, please visit www.visiontolearn.org.
About Sight for All United
Sight for All United is a locally based non-profit organization founded in 2016 by Karen Segesto and Sergul Erzurum. Sight for All United helps all members of the tri-county area achieve vision services regardless of their ability to pay. Sight for All United’s mission is to help every person reach his/her visual potential, educate the community on the impact of poor sight, raise awareness of eye health issues and remove barriers for access to care. Please visit www.sightforallunited.com to learn more.
About United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley
The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley fights for the education, health and financial stability of every family and individual in our Valley. The organization founded in 1919 supports education programs and emergency services. The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley will create positive change by collaborating with partners to educate and empower children and families in the Mahoning Valley. Learn more at www.ymvunitedway.org