- Charleston County School District
Sanders-Clyde students receive glasses at no charge through Vision To Learn
Over 80 students at Sanders Clyde Elementary School will receive new, prescription glasses thanks to Vision to Learn. The non-profit offers screenings, exams, and glasses to children in need in Title 1 schools at no charge to the students or their families.
Sanders Clyde is the first school in the South Carolina program of Vision To Learn. The students were excited about the opportunity, according to Allison Wukovits, nurse liaison for Charleston County School District.
“The younger ones wanted to pick out glasses in their favorite color and the older students were excited to actually be able to see,” said Wukovits. “We’re confident that we’re going to see improved behavior and grades as a result of this program. You can’t learn if you can’t see.”
Of the students screened, almost 35 percent of them needed an exam and 80 percent of those students needed glasses.
"Since launching our South Carolina program at Sanders-Clyde Elementary, Vision To Learn has seen firsthand the extreme need for our program in Charleston,” said Roberto Hernandez, Program Manager of Vision to Learn Charleston. “Over a third of students did not pass a vision screening, and the vast majority of these students have never had an eye examination - even some fourth or fifth graders who've needed glasses for years - underlining the lack of access to basic vision care. Charleston County is not alone in this – we estimate 150,000 South Carolina kids go to school every day unable to see clearly. Our goal in future years is to grow the program's reach so that students across the state can get the glasses they need to succeed in school and a connection to a local eye doctor for follow-up care."
Each student is allocated one pair of replacement glasses per year and will continue to be screened annually.
“One of the biggest obstacles is getting the students to their exams,” said Wukovits. “The cost of several hundred dollars is prohibitive as well. Bringing the exam to the students puts us ahead of the game.”
The other benefit to this program, according to Wukovits is that children don’t have to leave campus to receive a screening or exam.
“They can get what they need right here on campus and that augments what we already offer with our onsite medical and dental services,” said Wukovits.
Vision To Learn is based out of California. Henry Blackford, a long-time Charleston resident, came across a PBS documentary news program about the non-profit and after partnering with MUSC Health, MUSC Children’s Health, and the Medical
University’s Storm Eye Institute, brought the program to South Carolina and serves as the primary fundraiser to make the program possible.
“When I watched the news segment, Vision To Learn struck a nerve with me,” explained Blackford. “I got in touch with the founder to learn more, visited their program in Charlotte, and came back determined. The event at Sanders Clyde is our first dispensing event and we’re excited to expand the program.”
Blackford said he has worn glasses his entire life and doesn’t know what he would have done without vision assistance.
“You can’t expect children to do well if they have uncorrected vision issues,” said Blackford.
For more information, contact the Division of Strategy and Communications at (843) 937-6303.