International Community Health Services (ICHS), First Hill Lions Club, and Warby Parker have partnered on the Gift of Sight Project to provide free eye exams and glasses to 20 low-income immigrant and refugee students at Seattle World School.
“Being able to see the board at the front of the classroom is something that many of us take for granted, but for some of our students, not having access to affordable eye care can be very detrimental to their learning,” said Janni Sun, ICHS School Services Administrator. “The cost of eye care is prohibitive, even though it is so essential for young learners. To be able to offer students a solution to this persistent issue, even though they may not have insurance or otherwise access to affordable glasses, is a step towards more equitable services for students who have historically been and continue to be underserved.”
ICHS’s Teen Health Center at Seattle World School has been serving middle and high school age immigrant and refugee students for over a decade.
Because of the Teen Health Center, students have had access to high quality health care. The Health Center has also been instrumental in connecting students’ families with the school and with community resources, helping to improve student and family outcomes overall.
But for some immigrant and refugee students at Seattle World School, access to vision care was identified as a barrier for their families due to factors such as immigration status, family income, and dependency status. In particular, students who have aged out of government assistance when they turned 19 do not have access to proper vision care.
This unique collaboration on the Gift of Sight Project helps alleviate the financial burden associated with vision care needs and allow these students to focus on their academic and professional pursuits.
Under the supervision of Sherryl Grey, ICHS Director of Community Health Services, the ICHS Vision Clinic will work with the Seattle World School nurse to identify students that need this additional vision service.
“Vision services has been an ongoing gap in our services,” Grey said. “We can close that gap and make sure these young people have access to the services and resources they need.”
Funding from the Seattle First Hill Lions Club and the NW Lions Foundation is helping to cover the cost of the students’ eye exam and prescription.
“Since 1954, the Seattle First Hill Lions Club has been quietly serving the community in as many ways as we can come up with,” said Karen Ko, Seattle First Hill Lions Club President. “Vision is core to our mission and to be a partner with the ICHS and Warby Parker in helping young refugee and immigrant students couldn’t be more perfectly aligned with what the Seattle First Hill Lions club values.”
And finally, Warby Parker will provide the students with glasses to fit their individual vision care needs.
“We are excited to be a part of providing this essential need for Seattle World School students to continue on the road to success,” said Lisa Harris of Warby Parker, an online retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses with the mission to inspire and impact the world with vision, purpose, and style. This community partnership is the first of its kind in the region for Warby Parker.
“Without vision, the students’ learning would be affected,” said Heidi Wong, ICHS Foundation Executive Director. “If we can give them a little help to assist with their learning and give them confidence to excel in school, imagine what they can do to break out of barriers that are out of their control.”