VISION FOR STUDENTS: Austin Beutner, founder of Vision To Learn, is joined by San Diego Charges star defensive end Dwight Freeney and Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson on Tuesday at Baldwin Hills Elementary School as Vision to Learn unveiled a campaign to provide low income students with free vision care.(Vision to Learn Photo)
LET’S MAKE IT CLEAR: NFL veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney of the San Diego Chargers helps students select glasses on Tuesday September 17, 2013 at Baldwin Hills Elementary School during Vision to Learn’s campaign to provide vision care for 10,000 students. (Vision to Learn Photo)
National Football League veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney has 108 career sacks through 12 grueling seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and now the San Diego Chargers, but he made his biggest play at Baldwin Hills Elementary School on Tuesday September 17.
Freeney joined Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and the offices of County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, City Councilman Curren Price and Vision to Learn founder Austin Beutner to announce 10,000 students will receive free vision care, including eye exams and eyeglasses, for low-income students across Los Angeles.
The impact of non-profit organization Vision to Learn commitment will be great to the 400 students Baldwin Hills Elementary that has an 80 percent African American student population.
“What this does is provide the most immediate impact to a severe learning disability that is fixable,” explained Wesson. “This organization has stepped up and addressed a need. If kids can’t see they can’t read, write and it puts them at a learning disadvantage. I applauded Vision to Learn for this enormous support.”
Forty students were examined immediately and will receive eyeglasses at Baldwin Hills Elementary School.
Freeney who flew in from Philadelphia on Sunday night and arrived from San Diego Tuesday morning also participated in an examination and assisted one of the students in picking out his glasses.
“I think blue would be a great color,” Freeney chided with the youngster, suggesting the Chargers team colors.
“This means everything,” Freeney told the Sentinel. “I have been blessed to be able to just give back. It’s great to be here, especially coming off a big road win.”
Assistant Senior Deputy for Education and Public Safety, Alex Johnson represented Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Sebastian Ridley- Thomas, deputy to Councilman Price were on hand, respectively.
“Vision To Learn’s innovative delivery method, a Mobile Eye Clinic, it is so important to our community,’ said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in a statement. “They bring vision care directly to the students thus giving students one more tool to reach their full potential.”
“We know 80 percent of learning is visual. Yet nearly one quarter million young children across California do not have the eyeglasses they need to read their books or the board,” Beutner said. “We want to give these children a chance to succeed by providing the most fundamental of tools – vision to learn.”
According to the American Optometric Association, 80 percent of classroom learning is visual. This includes reading, writing and chalkboard exercises. Yet it has been estimated nearly one in every seven kindergarten through fifth graders in California does not have the glasses they need to learn. That means nearly one quarter million of California’s young students, including 55,000 here in Los Angeles, are struggling in the classroom due to untreated vision problems.
The Beutner Family Foundation created Vision To Learn in 2012. Nearly every day, Vision To Learn’s trained opticians and optometrists drive mobile eye clinics directly to low-income schools and communities to offer students free eye exams. Within three weeks, the organization returns to deliver free prescription glasses to those in need.