(From Left-to-Right): Nichol Whiteman, executive director, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, L.A. Dodgers’ pitcher Kenley Jansen, L.A. Dodgers’ third baseman, Justin Turner, McNair Elementary student, rapper, Master P, Compton Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Darin Brawley, Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees President, Micah Ali, Cynthia Watts, Vice Chairman of Vision To Learn and Dr. Alejandro Alvarez, Deputy Superintendent. (Brian W. Carter/ L.A. Sentinel)

On Friday, May 25, Vision To Learn (VTL) in partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) presented the gift of better sight to students at Dr. Ronald E. McNair Elementary. Almost 3,000 youth within the Compton Unified School District (CUSD) will receive glasses because of VTL and LADF efforts. Complete with the Dodgers branded mobile vision clinic and celebrities, it was day the kids at McNair Elementary will never forget. 

“This is an amazing opportunity to have these kids, who are so eager to learn and so full of promise for the future and help give them a basic tool that they need to succeed in life and in school,” said Cynthia Watts, Vice Chairman of Vision To Learn.  

It’s been estimated that about 3,000 kids in Compton struggle with their eyesight which impedes the learning process greatly. (Brian W. Carter/ L.A. Sentinel)

“It really is a fantastic opportunity for us.” 

The LADF partnered with VTL at its inception in 2012 with both organizations bringing vision screenings and eye exams to students and other community organizations. It’s been estimated that about 3,000 kids in Compton struggle with their eyesight which impedes the learning process greatly. VTL, LADF and Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees President, Micah Ali are combating that scenario. 

“I am so proud to have led this effort [and] worked very collaboratively with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation as well as Vision To Learn to address an issue that impacts millions upon millions of children in the world,” said Ali. “If there is an inability to see, there’s an inability to learn and that impacts a child’s academic success. 

He continued, “We ought to be about the business of providing children with vision [and] sight. The gift of sight is immeasurable, innumerable and incalculable.” 

Master P gives kids at Dr. Ronald E. McNair Elementary high fives. (Brian W. Carter/ L.A. Sentinel)

The kids were also presented with the surprise treat of rap icons Master P and Romeo Miller. The father-and-son were a tag team duo of inspiration and excitement for a day already charged by all the kids in attendance. They joined with L.A. Dodgers’ pitcher Kenley Jansen and third baseman, Justin Turner to share the importance of being able to see clearly to do well in school. They all spoke about the importance of the day and why they needed to be a part of it. 

“It’s probably one of the most important things that I have to do because being able to make sure these kids can see is so important,” said Master P. “You can’t do nothing without your sight.” 

He continued, “We’ve already serviced over 100,000 kids nationwide—we’re going to service over 2 million in the next two years.” 

“You gotta make time,” said Miller. “I was supposed to be on a film set right now but this is what we work hard for. 

“My pops—my family comes from poverty and people always forget you’ve got to remember where you come from and that’s what I want my career to be about. 

“It’s not about having the most money, having the most success, it’s about being able to be in a situation to give back and to create opportunities like this.” 

“Just being a part, being with kids, they’re our future, especially for Vision To Learn, we know how important vision is for [kids] to learn and get better,” said Jansen. “It’s awesome to be here and give back to the community.” 

McNair Elementary is the first school in Compton to be served by this effort by VTL and LAFD. They provided 196 students at the elementary school with vision screenings, with 50 students receiving eye exams, and 38 receiving glasses. 

The Compton Unified School District, Vision To Learn, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, celebrities and athletes brought a day of better vision to students at Dr. Ronald E. McNair Elementary.
(Brian W. Carter/ L.A. Sentinel)

Research conducted by Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA showed students who received glasses from Vision To Learn grades improved and were more engaged in the classroom. Students with poor vision often struggle at school and are at risk of not reaching the next grade level and possibly dropping out of school at an early age. The combined efforts of VTL and LAFD is turning the tide one child at a time. 

“We are excited to have the opportunity to do this and be a part of it,” said Watts. 

“I feel that we have an obligation to ensure that our children are in fact, the future and we do that by addressing the whole needs of a child…  ensuring that there is mental health services available, proper nutrition—and that’s what we’re doing in this school system,” said Ali.  

For more information on Vision To Learn, please visit visiontolearn.org. 

For more information on the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, please visit http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com.