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Hunts Point Middle School Offered Free Vision Screening Session

By Madina Toure | February 5, 2014 9:50am
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HUNTS POINT — A Bronx school offered free vision screenings — and glasses — to students with vision problems in order to help them get to the head of the class — and found that a higher than average portion of students had trouble seeing.

Hunts Point Middle School, also known as MS424X, recently partnered with the ChildSight Program of Helen Keller International, an organization that works to combat blindness and malnutrition, to screen children on site at the school on Bryant Avenue.

The program screened students at the school on Nov. 22, and then sent new glasses to students who need them for free within one to three weeks of the eye test, officials said. The glasses are made by a partnering lab that customizes the glasses for students based on their prescription.

“If a prescription is written, they have a whole array of modern science to choose form, which the students absolutely love because they can do this without their parents," said Tonya Daniels, program manager for ChildSight New York.

The announcement was made on Jan. 28 on the blog of City Year New York, an education-based nonprofit organization that works to increase the student graduation rate through a year of full-time service.

“Sit in on a class at MS424X and this becomes very apparent — students who have trouble seeing the board have to either move to the front of the class or sit further back and not be able to engage in the lesson,” the post on City Year’s blog read.

The organization brings the program to schools where the free lunch rate — the percentage of of students who receive free or reduced lunch — is 75 percent or higher, Daniels said.

When the program visited the school, they found that 36 percent of students screened failed the vision screening, higher than the average rate of roughly 25 percent, Daniels explained. The organization is currently looking into other schools in Hunts Point that could benefit from the program.

Started as a pilot program in the city in 1994, ChildSight supports at-risk youth living in poverty by providing free vision screenings and glasses, according to the organization's website.

In addition to New York, the program also operates in California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico and Ohio as well as Indonesia and Vietnam.