Helping School-Age Children See the Future
America’s Best has teamed with Boys and Girls Club of America (and Monster Jam!) to provide free eye care to kids in need—andinspire them to pursue their dreams
Good vision is great for kids—and not just because it makes them better at hitting baseballs or catching lightning bugs.
It’s also a strong predictor of school performance, according to the National Center for Children’s Vision & Eye Health.
Yet many children are walking around in a blurry fog—and may not even know it! The numbers speak for themselves:
- About 25% of adolescents who are nearsighted, farsighted, or have an astigmatism have inadequate correction
- 14% of children have gone without new or replacement eyeglasses in the past year because their parents or guardians couldn’t afford the cost
- 6% of children with special health-care needs have unmet vision-care needs
School vision screenings are an obvious solution. But not every state requires them, and not every school district has the resources to conduct them. Plus, these quick checks can miss many vision problems.
Enter the Boys and Girls Club of America and America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses.
The Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA) exists to help kids reach their full potential in school, in their communities, and in life. Part of this involves making sure kids are equipped with the tools they need to take on the world. Tools like eyeglasses, for example.
Though glasses are a basic need for many, some school-age kids don’t have an easy way to obtain them, as noted above. This is where America’s Best comes in, partnering with BGCA to make sure kids who need glasses have them. At special events held throughout the year, the company offers BGCA kids free vision screenings and, if needed, free comprehensive eye exams and eyewear.
“It’s awesome," says Nicole Freeman, director of the BGCA in Oak Grove, Oregon. "There are so many kids who don’t have an opportunity to get their eyes checked and get glasses for free.” Earlier this month, screeners from the nearby America’s Best store in Clackamas offered complimentary vision checks.
The free screening program offers many benefits to kids and families in her club, Freeman says. First and foremost, it alleviates financial pressure on those who cannot squeeze the cost of exams and glasses into their budgets. It also benefits those who don’t have easy access to transportation to and from the eye doctor’s office, as well as students who are experiencing academic struggles related to their vision.
At the Oak Grove screening event, club members were excited to get their eyes checked, especially when it resulted in a referral.
“It’s kind of cool that I get actual glasses,” says 13-year-old Mason, who often requests to sit near the front at school due to vision challenges. “I have already looked at photos of glasses I like!”
This particular screening event had a special guest in attendance that made it even more fun for kids: Bari Musawwir, driver of Monster Jam’s Zombie truck. America’s Best frequently partners with Monster Jam, the most action-packed motor sports entertainment experience, in the mission to provide free exams and glasses to kids. (Check out the latest Monster Jam eyewear collection here.)
Musawwir, who was in town for a Monster Jam event at Portland’s Moda Center, signed autographs and chatted with kids about his Monster Jam life. Musawwir says racing a truck was his childhood dream, so he’s always on board when it comes to helping BGCA kids achieve dreams of their own. In this case, through better vision.
“Kids love it,” says American’s Best district manager Tammera Leondike. “There are so many people who are energized by Monster Jam; it is an awesome partnership.”
Truan, a 10-year-old fifth grader who signed up for the screening and received a pair of backup glasses, agrees.
“I thought it was pretty great!” he says.
In all, Leondike and her co-screener Jennifer Brandeberry, the Clackamas store manager, completed 38 screenings and referred 17 kids for full exams.
“It fills our hearts to be able to give back,” Leondike says.
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