Vision To Learn

Charlotte N. Werner Elementary School student Summer Ugarte is congratulated by San Bernardino County Supervisors Curt Hagman and Joe Baca, Jr. after receiving her new prescription glasses.

Cheerful students were excited to receive free prescription glasses in front of community leaders and educators at Charlotte N. Werner Elementary School in Rialto on Nov. 18.

The students were the first in San Bernardino County to be provided free vision services by Vision To Learn, a nonprofit organization with a mission to help kids in underserved communities get the glasses they need to see clearly at school.

Following last year’s debut in Riverside County, Vision to Learn plans to provide more than 75,000 free eye exams to students in San Bernardino County over the coming years.

The organization is aiming to help students in Fontana sometime in 2023.

“Vision To Learn is so excited to finally be launching in San Bernardino County,” said Vision To Learn President Ann Hollister.

One in five public school students in the United States lack the glasses they need to see the board, read a book, or participate in class; and in low-income communities, 95 percent of children who need glasses do not have them, according to a news release issued by Vision To Learn.

Students with uncorrected eye problems often avoid reading, suffer headaches, and can have trouble focusing in class, as 80 percent of learning during a child’s first 12 years is visual. Additionally, students not proficient in reading by the end of third grade are more likely to drop out of school.

“Student success is very important to me,” said 5th District Supervisor Joe Baca Jr. “When I was a teacher at Rialto High School, I noticed the students that had trouble seeing the board were the ones falling behind. This amazing opportunity is what we need to help our students succeed.”

Vision To Learn was founded in 2012 by Los Angeles philanthropists Austin and Virginia Beutner, and provides vision screenings, eye exams, and glasses to students who would otherwise go without. They use mobile vision clinics — optometric offices on wheels — to bring services directly to schools and community organizations.

Since its founding, Vision To Learn has helped provide more than 1.5 million children with vision screenings, more than 340,000 with eye exams and 270,000 with glasses — all free of charge to children and their families.

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