In January, the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation teamed up with Vision to Learn to equip Inglewood children in need with free glasses. The two organizations recently finished their task.
Vision to Learn and the Clippers foundation provided glasses to all the students in the Inglewood Unified school District who needed them by the first week of June. After screening the 12,000 students that make up the district, 1,420 students received glasses.
“When you put the glasses on the child, they glow,” said Vision to Learn Founder and Chair Austin Beutner. “They see the world in a different way for the first time and it’s a pretty special feeling.”
Inglewood is the first community of its type to deliver vision care to an whole school district, according to Vision to Learn.
“We are honored to support this pioneering opportunity to provide high quality vision care for thousands of students in Inglewood,” said L.A. Clippers President Gillian Zucker. “By providing glasses to students in need, the L.A. Clippers Foundation hopes to create a better future for the entire Inglewood community.”
With the help of school nurses and workers from the Rotary Club, all students were given an exam of reading a Snellen chart. If a student did not pass that test, they would undergo a typical eye exam as though they were visiting the eye doctor.
Students get examinations at the Vision to Learn mobile Eye Clinics. The clinics are furnished with all the instruments needed to conduct an eye exam.
“Every day, a van was at a school in Inglewood until we got the job done,” Beutner said.
Students were also allowed to choose out different frames for their glasses. Among the color schemes were L.A. Dodgers blue and Clippers red and blue.
“Having the glasses is one thing, but getting the child to wear them is really what we’re all about. They get to pick their own sense of fashion,” Beutner said. “Then the glasses come back, clinician comes back about two weeks later and puts the glasses on each child and makes sure they fit properly.”
According to a study conducted by the Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, children who live with uncorrected vision are more likely to not engage in classroom activities and not complete assignments. Teachers could believe those students have behavioral issues. After receiving glasses, those students’ behaviors change for the better.
“I have seen first-hand that students with impaired vision can struggle in the classroom. By getting kids eye exams and glasses, we’re able to change these outcomes,” said Dr. Vincent Matthews, State Administrator Inglewood School District.
To kickoff this effort, Clippers teammates Paul Pierce and Chris Paul visited Inglewood High School to pass out glasses to the students.
“When fifteen or twenty percent of the class of the kids in the class are getting glasses all at the same time, there’s some safety in numbers,” Buetner said. “When people heard Chris Paul and Paul Pierce tell them it’s okay to wear them and wear them if you need them, they feel pretty good about it, [they] feel pretty good about wearing them which is great.”