Vision To Learn comes to Fort Dodge

Nonprofit helps bolster education through providing eyeglasses

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Car’Mari Mosley-Young, 4th grade, tries on her new glasses with help from James Adams. Vision To Learn was at Butler Elementary School Monday morning proving glasses to about 30 students. About 125 students district-wide will receive glasses as part of this program.

Car’Mari Mosley-Young was all smiles as she tried on her new pair of glasses for the first time Monday.

“Are they too loose? Are they slipping down?” Optician James Adams asked as he helped adjust the new frames to fit, in the library at Butler Elementary School Monday morning.

Mosley-Young was one of about 30 students getting new glasses at the school Monday thanks to the Vision To Learn program.

“Providing kids with glasses changes their lives,” said Corrine Kroger, Vision To Learn Iowa regional director. “They become more confident, participate more in the classroom, and do better in reading, math, and all of their schoolwork.”

This is the first year the program has come to Fort Dodge schools. About 200 students got eye exams earlier in the year, with around 125 receiving glasses.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Trucker Gill, second grade, shows how his old glasses have become flimsy and beat-up. Gill received new glasses Monday morning through the Vision To Learn program.

“Vision To Learn is a national nonprofit that started in California in 2012,” Kroger said. “We started in Iowa in Dubuque in 2016.”

From there, the idea caught the attention of Randy Kuhlman, chief executive officer of the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way.

“We became aware of the program because of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque,” Kuhlman said. “I thought it sounded like an interesting program. They did some research on the number of students in our school system that are on free and reduced lunch. Our system qualified for the program.”

Vision To Learn works with schools that have a minimum of 50 percent free and reduced lunch rate, Kroger said. The United Way provided funds for two pairs of glasses for each kid — one pair to wear home, and a backup to keep at the school.

This year, around 1,050 students at Butler, Cooper, Duncombe and Feelhaver elementary schools received vision screenings by a school nurse, trained by Prevent Blindness Iowa, Kroger said. Students who did not pass an initial screening received an eye exam from Vision To Learn clinicians.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter James Adams, right, adjusts second grader Tucker Gill’s new glasses Monday morning, using a hot air machine to make the plastic adjustible.

Mosley-Young said the exam was a little intimidating at first, but she really enjoyed picking out her new, tortoiseshell-colored frames from the big black case on the Vision To Learn mobile clinic.

“It’s awesome. I always wanted glasses,” Mosley-Young said, adding that her eyes get sore sometimes when she’s trying to read.

Reading is fun, she added — she’s a fan of both the Goosebumps series and the Geronimo Stilton books, although her favorite subject is math.

“If you have students that don’t have normal vision, that’s certainly going to negatively impact their ability to read and to learn,” Kuhlman said. “That’s why we felt this was so important, and why we’re excited to be a key partner in it.”

Vision To Learn keeps its eye exams quick and efficient, Kroger said. Students can come out to the van, get their exam done and be back in class in about 15 minutes, to minimize disruption of the school day.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter Regional Manager for Vision To Learn Corrine Kroger gives a tour of the organization’s eye exam van to Duncombe Principal Pat Reding, and Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way Chief Executive Officer Randy Kuhlman. The van has a chair and eye chart for a traditional eye exam, and is set up to quickly get students tested and back to their studies.

“Vision and learning are closely related. Good vision is vital for students to reach their academic goals,” said Steph Anderson, director of elementary education for the FDCSD. “We are grateful to Vision To Learn and the United Way of Greater Fort Dodge for their partnership and support in ensuring our students can reach their full learning potential.”


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