Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Board President Micah Ali, Mayor Aja Brown, radio host Big Boy, and former Dodgers joined Vision To Learn Founder Austin Beutner to kick off Compton program and present free glasses to dozens of area school children
LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, CUSD Board President Micah Ali, Mayor Aja Brown, and CUSD leaders joined Vision To Learn Founder Austin Beutner, radio host Big Boy, and former Dodgers star Derrel Thomas to celebrate the expansion of Vision To Learn into Compton. At the event, 59 children from Clinton Elementary and Dominguez High School received free eye glasses.
Vision To Learn has continued to expand throughout California since it was established in 2012, providing free mobile eye exams and free eye glasses to children in low-income communities. The organization has already helped more than 25,000 children in California receive free eye exams and free glasses, and it launched a nationwide campaign last month with its debut in Delaware.
“We are excited about the growth of Vision To Learn and how we have been able to improve the lives of thousands of children,” said Beutner. “Studies have shown that approximately two million school children nationally are in need of glasses, and we’ve seen how something as simple as a pair of glasses can improve academic performance, class participation, and self-esteem.”
According to a recent UCLA study, it is estimated that more than 20 percent of students in California have a vision problem that can be identified by screening, and 80-90 percent of those defects can be corrected with glasses. These impacts are greater for low income and minority students, who have less access to optometrists. The Vision To Learn model works because it serves children directly at the school, eliminates costs and logistics for parents, and decreases potential stigmas by providing glasses to many students at a time. In addition, the schools and staff are able to encourage use.
At the event, radio personality Big Boy brought the idea home by pulling out his own glasses prior to speaking to the children and assembled guests, saying, “See, even perfect people wear glasses.”
The Compton event featured the Vision To Learn Mobile Optometry Bus, which includes a full-service eye clinic, optometrist and staff. The smaller Vision To Learn Dodger Mobile Clinic was also on display at the event. On a regular basis, these specialized vehicles take optometrists to schools so children can be examined; the free eye glasses are brought back to students at a later date.
Vision To Learn is in its second year of a three-year partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation to provide free eye exams and free eye glasses to elementary school students in low income communities through the Greater Los Angeles area.
“I know how important it is for us to provide as many tools as we can to help our children succeed in school and beyond,” said Beutner. “I want to thank the Compton Unified School District, as well as the city and school leaders, for helping Vision To Learn make a positive impact on thousands of children and provide them with the opportunity to achieve more out of life.”
A UCLA study highlighted how poor vision can affect school performance, class participation, and self-esteem. Study findings showed that Vision To Learn’s work has improved student focus and behavior, their ease and ability to work, and overall academic success – short- and long-term. It can also noticeably improve overall classroom management and family dynamics.
Vision To Learn has received support from organizations throughout California including the Los Angeles Dodgers, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the California Endowment, and the California Teachers Association.