Raising Healthy Readers
We know that learning begins at birth, and that healthy development greatly impacts children’s ability to learn: Children who are on track in their physical, social and emotional, cognitive, and verbal development are more successful learners from their earliest years, and they are more likely to become proficient readers. At every age and stage of development, children from low-income families often receive less, and lower-quality, health care and services. As a result, they experience poor health at higher rates than children from higher income families.
Vision To Learn
In 2016, the Community Foundation partnered with nonprofit Vision To Learn to pilot a mobile vision clinic aimed at improving kids’ vision to help them succeed in school. The pilot program included eight Title I schools — five in Dubuque and three in Jackson County. Students were identified as needing an exam from their fall school vision screenings, and nearly 180 students were examined on the mobile clinic. Of those examined, 91 received prescriptions for glasses and 18 were referred on for further vision care. Each student who received a prescription was given two free pairs of glasses — one to keep at school and one to keep at home. The pilot project was made possible by donations from Vision To Learn and Theisen’s Home*Farm*Auto, with additional support from CFGD and the Community Foundation of Jackson County.
CFGD brought Vision To Learn to Iowa through its Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which works to help more children read at grade level by the end of third grade. Research by the University of California Los Angeles Mattel Children’s Hospital shows that Vision To Learn has a direct impact on education outcomes for children supported by the program and improves the learning environment for the entire classroom and school.
During the 2016-2017 school year, Vision To Learn will be expanding to serve 45 schools in seven different counties. Starting in September, the mobile clinic will begin traveling to area schools in Allamakee, Clayton, Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Jackson and Jones counties. It will continue its journey throughout Eastern Iowa during the school year, and during the summer months it will make stops at summer programs and local organizations serving children. Students will be identified for an exam on the mobile clinic by their school screenings, and those requiring a prescription will be given two free pairs of glasses.
The program is made possible through partnerships with Vision To Learn, Theisen’s Home*Farm*Auto, and Klauer Optical Co., with support from CFGD.