CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – More than 80 students attending Sanders-Clyde Elementary School are given brand new, prescription glasses from the local non-profit, Vision to Learn.
Sanders-Clyde is the first school in South Carolina to participate in the Vision to Learn program. The program offers screenings, exams, and glasses to children in need in Title 1 schools at no charge to students or their families.
“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.”
35 percent of students screened needed an eye 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.
Each student is allowed one pair of replacement glasses per year and will continue to be screened annually on-site at the school.
“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.”
Henry Blackford, long-time Charleston resident, watched a PBS documentary about Vision To Learn and partnered with MUSC Health, MUSC Children’s Health, and the Medical University’s Storm Eye Institute to bring the program to South Carolina.
“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 says he wore glasses his entire life and did not know what he would do without vision assistance.
“You can’t expect children to do well if they have uncorrected vision issues,” said Blackford.