Sight for Students program helps families in need of vision care

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There’s nothing better than expanding a student’s mind through education, but what if that student can’t see the chalkboard? Garfield Re-2 families who lack the means for proper eye care need not worry: health services has you covered with free eye care through their partnership with Vision Service Plan Global.

Some students in the district have the unique opportunity for this free care. It’s made possible through gift certificates provided by Vision Service Plan Global’s Sight for Students, an Eyes of Hope program. Each gift certificate provides access to eye care and, if prescribed, glasses from a local VSP network doctor.

To use the gift certificates, students must be 19 years old or younger and have a family income at or under 200% of the Federal Poverty Level guidelines. Covered in full is a comprehensive eye exam, Otis & Piper brand frames within a $115 allowance, single-vision or lined multifocal lenses and polycarbonate lenses. Those who qualify are able to use one voucher every 12 months.

According to Wamsley Elementary health clerk Tiffany Arnold, one family feels particularly grateful for the program. “When I first found out that my youngest son was having trouble seeing and didn’t pass his at-school eye test, I was crushed because we didn’t have vision insurance and my husband had just lost his job,” says Re-2 parent Barbara Ailport. “I was in tears when I told Miss Tiff about this, but she said not to worry because she could help. She gave us a VSP voucher and helped us get an appointment set up for him. In true Miss Tiff fashion, she found a place to help us and we were able to get my son’s glasses.”

Fast forward to a new school year and another failed eye test for Ailport’s oldest son. Again, Arnold provided another voucher so that Ailport could set up another appointment. “Knowing that we have this voucher and having little financial responsibility makes taking him to get his vision tested a big relief,” says Ailport. “I’m truly thankful and blessed to be able to have my children’s vision tested because otherwise we just wouldn’t be able to afford taking them in.”

Riverside Middle health clerk Kim Gardner also recalls a time when the program helped a family in need. “In March, I was approached by one of my special education teachers to see if I could help out with a new student who had failed his school screening for 8th grade,” says Gardner. “The family was struggling financially and trying to save money to replace his broken glasses. I hooked them up with a voucher to get a new pair, and his teachers saw a vast improvement in his assignments and said he constantly had a smile on his face.”

“The Health Services team is proud to provide vision and hearing screenings, identify students who need a follow-up exam and notify their parents,” says Sarah Bell, Director of Health Services. “We are so grateful that we have the ability to provide certificates to students who may not be able to afford an eye exam and get the glasses they need. We know very well that a student’s ability to see and hear is vitally important and greatly impacts their ability to learn.”

Thanks to VSP Global’s partnership with the National Association of School Nurses, more than 450,000 students have been able to visit a local eye doctor to receive the vision care they need to succeed in school and achieve their dreams. Since 1997, together with VSP network doctors, Eyes of Hope programs, including Sight for Students, have provided access to no-cost eye care and eyewear for more than 1.3 million adults and children in need.

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