Atlanta/ Health & Lifestyle
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Published on March 14, 2024
Atlanta's Deerwood Academy Students to Receive Clearer Futures with Free Eye Care InitiativeSource: Unsplash/ CDC

Vision is crucial for learning, and for many students at Atlanta's Deerwood Academy, that vision is about to sharply improve. In an initiative that has provided free eye screenings and glasses to public school students, the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation (GLLF), in partnership with Atlanta Public Schools, is making a significant impact on children's lives. The initiative was made possible by a generous $50,000 donation from automobile manufacturer Kia.

Yesterday, efforts to significantly improve students' vision took a practical turn at Deerwood Academy. Principal Joy Antone highlighted the importance of this initiative, saying, "Our kids do so much today. They're constantly on and off devices," in an interview obtained by FOX 5 Atlanta. The excessive screen time, as noted, contributes to vision deterioration, a problem compounded by the lack of insurance for many children in Georgia — a state that ranks worryingly high for the number of uninsured kids.

Nearly 200 students pre-registered for the free eye exams at Deerwood Academy, a Title 1 school where access to such care might otherwise fall beyond reach. According to a statement obtained by Atlanta News First, "What we find is children don’t know what they don’t know so if they have lived with poor vision all their life. Giving them those glasses and being able to help them improve their vision. It just changes their world," said Beth Ehrhardt, Executive Director of GLLF.

One-in-four kids in Georgia suffer from vision loss, which can lead to them to struggle academically. The GLLF has recognized the link between vision issues and behavioral problems in children. "We've seen children with behavioral problems be diagnosed with various issues," said Ehrhardt, according to FOX 5 Atlanta. Volunteers are keenly aware that resolving vision issues can significantly change students' education and wellbeing as "Once they can see, those things go away," Ehrhardt added.

This initiative doesn't just stop at Deerwood Academy. Kia's involvement is set to extend the reach of these clinics to other schools as well. "We knew we wanted to be a part of this. I have been to a few of these screenings and I am just amazed at how many students benefit from this program," Matt Scarlett, Regional Marketing Manager with Kia, told Atlanta News First. The aim is not merely to correct students' vision but to set them on a path towards improved overall educational success and quality of life.