June is Child Vision Awareness Month and Children’s Aid is dedicated to providing our young people with free access to vision care.
Since 2007, we have partnered with Helen Keller International (HKI) to provide more than 13,000 students in Children’s Aid schools and programs with free eyeglasses. Launched as a pilot in Washington Heights in 1994, Helen Keller International’s ChildSight program provides free vision screenings, free eye exams, and free prescription eyeglasses to school-aged children.
In February 2019, HKI provided its two millionth screening to 12-year-old Gabriela, who attends Mirabal Sisters Campus, a Children’s Aid community school.
Gabriela, who lives with her mom in Washington Heights, aspires to be a veterinarian.
“To become a veterinarian, I need to put a lot of effort in my studies,” she said. “I really need my glasses to study because reading and writing is an important part of the classes.”
From October 2019 through December 2019, nearly 4,000 screenings took place at Children’s Aid elementary, middle, and high schools. More than 1,000 students received a free pair of eyeglasses as a result of the screenings.
According to a 2018 analysis from the Education Week Research Center, more than 29 percent of schoolchildren across the state of New York have not had a vision screening in the past two years—if ever.
“Our partnership with Helen Keller International has allowed us to distribute thousands of eyeglasses to students and remove barriers to academic success,” Adria Cruz, deputy director of health programs for Children’s Aid, said. “Access to healthcare is a struggle for families living in poverty, and these vision screenings make a lifelong impact on the lives of children and youth who may not have had the opportunity to receive quality vision care.”