Today, Helen Keller International and Vision To Learn presented free glasses to more than 110 K to 8th grade Jersey City students at Frank R. Conwell Middle School. This event celebrates the expansion of their efforts to provide free vision screenings, eye exams and glasses to all Pre-K to 8th grade students in Jersey City, Orange and East Orange public schools by January 2020.
“Helen Keller International believes in a world in which all children can see clearly and follow their dreams,” said Meghan Lynch, Director of Helen Keller International’s US Vision Program. “That’s a world worth fighting for, and I know that with the continued support of our partners like Overdeck Family Foundation, we can make that happen in New Jersey – and wherever our vision care services are needed.”
“We provide kids with the glasses they need to succeed in school and in life,” said Ann Hollister, President of Vision To Learn. “Two million kids across the country lack the glasses they need, and we’ll keep working to make sure they get the help they deserve.”
From 2018 to 2020, Helen Keller International and Vision To Learn’s mobile teams will provide free vision care services to all Pre-K through 8th grade students in Jersey City, Orange and East Orange Public Schools. Services will be offered on-site through program staff and trained opticians and optometrists. Each child who does not pass the vision screening will receive an eye exam. If the child is found to need glasses, he or she will be able to choose from a variety of styles and frames. The glasses will be provided to the child at school within three weeks, all free of charge.
The program, funded by Overdeck Family Foundation, is expected to reach 31,000 students and distribute 6,300 pairs of glasses. Previous funding from Overdeck Family Foundation has supported Helen Keller International and Vision To Learn in providing free vision screenings, eye exams, and glasses to all elementary and middle school students in Newark Public Schools, amounting to nearly 26,000 screenings and over 5,200 pairs of glasses.
“Children who cannot see the board cannot learn. Overdeck Family Foundation is proud to support Helen Keller International and Vision To Learn in their efforts to ensure all children who need glasses have them,” said Laura Overdeck, Chair of Overdeck Family Foundation. “We believe improving access to vision care not only helps children be more excited about school, but also empowers them to learn.”
In the United States, uncorrected vision conditions affect one in every four children, according to the American Optometric Association. Since 80 percent of what children learn during their first 12 years is attained through visually processing information, students with uncorrected vision problems often struggle in school and are at greater risk of dropping out.
“Whether it’s reading a book or seeing the board, students need to see clearly in and out of the classroom to reach their full potential,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “I’m grateful to Overdeck Family Foundation, Vision To Learn, Helen Keller International and Jersey City Public Schools for their innovative public-private partnership to provide new vision screenings, eye exams and glasses to all Pre-K to 8th grade students in the Jersey City School District. Building a stronger and fairer New Jersey means giving all our students the tools they need to excel academically.”
At today’s event celebrating the expanded initiative, 114 Jersey City students received their new glasses. Forty of these students participated in a brief ceremony in which each student was called on stage to be presented with their glasses, try them on and pose for a photo.
“On behalf of the children of the Jersey City Public Schools and their families, I would like to thank Vision To Learn, Helen Keller International and Overdeck Family Foundation for making sure young learners are provided with free eye exams and eyeglasses,” said Franklin Walker, Chief School Administrator, Jersey City Public Schools. “Vision is extremely important for learning and this worthy campaign is making sure impaired vision does not negatively impact academic achievement in the district.”
About Helen Keller International & US Vision Programs
Helen Keller International, co-founded by its namesake in 1915, empowers millions of people to achieve their potential through preventative and curative solutions in eye health, nutrition, and neglected tropical diseases. Headquartered in New York City, Helen Keller International currently works in the United States as well as in 20 countries across Africa and Asia. Respected for the range and rigor of its work, Helen Keller International is a top-rated charity.
Helen Keller International’s US Vision Program brings free vision care services and prescription eyeglasses to children in underserved communities in California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin. Since the start of our work in New Jersey in 1996, we have screened 198,200 students and provided 34,336 pairs of free prescription eyeglasses to children in need in the State of New Jersey. Learn more at https://helenkellerintl.org/what-we-do/saving-sight/.
About Vision To Learn
Vision To Learn was founded to ensure all children in America have the glasses they need to succeed in school and in life. The nonprofit provides eye exams and glasses to children in low-income communities through its mobile eye clinics. After starting with one van in Los Angeles in 2012, Vision To Learn now operates in more than 325 cities in 13 states. Since its inception, Vision To Learn has helped more than 194,000 children. For more information, please visit www.visiontolearn.org.
About Overdeck Family Foundation
Overdeck Family Foundation was established in 2011 by John and Laura Overdeck with the goal of providing all children the opportunity to unlock their potential. The Foundation funds research and organizations that measurably enhance education inside and outside the classroom.