SAN JOSE - Students at Selma Olinder Elementary were delighted today when San Jose Sharks players Chris Tierney and Joel Ward helped them try on their brand new glasses. The glasses were provided by non-profit Vision To Learn, which kicked-off its third year serving students in Santa Clara County by providing free glasses to 47 students from kindergarten through fifth grade at Olinder. Tierney, Ward and Sharks Chief Operating Officer John Tortora joined Vision To Learn Founder Austin Beutner along with representatives from Kaiser Permanente South Bay and San Jose Unified School District (SJUSD) to celebrate the project's success to-date and service to come in the new year. The children were also presented with complimentary tickets to the Sharks preseason home game on October 5.
In the coming school year, the new partnership between the Sharks Foundation, Kaiser Permanente South Bay and Vision To Learn will help nearly 1,000 students in Santa Clara County get glasses, including more than 600 in San Jose Unified School District. The success of this project has been assisted by a close collaboration between Vision To Learn and SJUSD.
"The district and our school nurses are excited to partner with Vision To Learn to help students achieve in the classroom and beyond," said Melinda Landau, Manager of Health and Family Support Programs for San Jose Unified School District. "Because so much of early learning is visual, our nurses made sure every kid who wanted a screening could get one."
Vision To Learn has served students throughout SJUSD since 2014. The exams and glasses are supported by a $20,000 grant from the Sharks Foundation and an additional grant from Kaiser Permanente South Bay, which has supported the program for three years. "A child's ability to see is such a vital indicator of whether they can succeed in the classroom," said Heather Hooper, Sharks Foundation Manager. "We are proud to help ensure that students across San Jose will have access to such an important educational instrument."
"Kaiser Permanente is thrilled to support Vision To Learn and their dedication to working in our communities," said Chris Boyd, Sr. Vice President and Area Manager, Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center. "Providing eyeglasses helps ensure these children will have the best opportunity to excel in school and beyond," he added.
Vision To Learn's optometrists work out of a mobile clinic that travels to a different school site every day. Students are examined on the bus and, if glasses are prescribed, they choose their frames from a wide selection of colors and sizes. The glasses are then delivered to the kids at school within three weeks. All of Vision To Learn's services - from the exam to the glasses - are provided free of charge to the child.
"Vision To Learn gives kids the glasses they need to succeed in school, and in life," said Beutner. "We have helped lots of kids in 110 cities throughout California, and it's a joy to watch a child put on his or her glasses and see the world in a different way."