‘Wow, I Can See!’
America’s Best has a vision to connect with kids
The Boys and Girls Club of America is all about fun. Just ask Brian Olsson. As a kid, he spent summers at the BGCA day camp in Springfield, Ill. “I had a great time,” Brian recalls. “We’d go hiking, canoeing and swimming in the lake, and do all kinds of arts and crafts. I have amazing memories of my time at camp.”
Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Brian is heading to the Boys Club all over again. Now he’s an optician and assistant manager at the America’s Best store in Springfield, and he’s having almost as much fun as he had as a kid.
Every year, Brian and his colleague, manager Jay Myers, spend a full day at the BGCA main campus in Springfield, where they do vision screenings of dozens of children. It’s an important program, since studies show that children with uncorrected vision problems have a tougher time at school—and for the rest of their lives.
Most states require vision screenings at elementary schools—but lots of families simply can’t afford glasses if the screening shows that their children need them. One study of fifth graders showed that 14 percent had gone without glasses because of the cost.
“Quite a few of the kids we see at the Club tell us they’re having trouble seeing the board or that they’re sitting really close to the TV,” explains Jay. “But they say they can’t wear glasses because they’re too expensive.”
This partnership with the BGCA has become a mission for America’s Best. Jay and Brian test the children for basic visual acuity, and if they detect any problems, they invite the kids back to the office for a complete exam. This year, they referred 34 kids to the store for follow-up.
“The most common problem we see is myopia, or nearsightedness, and that’s easily corrected,” Jay says. “We provide each kid with an exam and glasses—some of them for the first time, and others are getting replacements. Kids can be pretty hard on their glasses!”
The program is a big hit with parents and kids alike. “When the kids get their glasses, they’re ecstatic,” says Brian. “They’ll pick out a pair they love and notice things they’ve never seen before, like leaves in the trees or signs on buildings across the street. It’s so much fun to hear them say, ‘Wow, I can see!’”
The program’s a big hit with Jay and Brian, too. “This partnership is integral to our company’s mission of helping people to see better and making vision care affordable," explains Jay. "This is a part of our job that we get really excited about.
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