Cañon City School District students get free glasses through Essilor Foundation
By Sara Knuth, The Daily Record
As a group of kindergartners debated about their favorite pairs of glasses Thursday at Harrison K-8 School, older students recited lines of letters that gradually decreased in size.
When she was waiting in line, Lincoln School of Science and Technology fifth-grader Danaye Walters gave some advice to other students who might need glasses: “They’re better because you can see better, and you don’t have to sit in the front of the class all the time.”
For the second time this school year, a select group of Cañon City School District students were in line to take eye exams. And in just a few weeks, some of them could be back to pick up a free pair of glasses.
“This is a wonderful opportunity,” said Sheila Robeson, who directs Harrison’s health office.
The exams were provided, free of charge, by the Essilor Vision Foundation, an organization that emphasizes quality vision.
Robeson said the district itself offers eye exams once per year.
But the group of students who were tested Thursday fell into a different category — most of them, she said, qualify for free and reduced lunch and don’t receive vision coverage through insurance, which ultimately means their parents can’t afford glasses.
“We do it usually at the very beginning of the school year, and we cover the kiddos,” she said. “And these are kiddos that didn’t pass or they’re border-line.”
The exams were conducted, in large part, by Sean Claflin and his staff at Claflin Eye Care. Most of the testing equipment was provided by the Essilor Foundation, which has been coming to the district for the past two years.
“Vision can affect how you perform and how you do in school, and we want to give that opportunity,” Claflin said. “And some of those kids don’t have the opportunity.”
For Brooks Taylor, a brand consultant with Essilor America, the exams are a chance to help communities. He said the company requires employees to volunteer twice per year.
“It’s just for underprivileged kids who don’t typically have insurance or the means to buy eyewear,” he said, adding that the foundation also recently worked with the Cherry Creek School District. There, he helped dispense 968 glasses after about 1,100 exams were given.
“It’s just really rewarding to know that,” he said. “When they finally put that pair on and look out the window, kids are like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can actually see something. I can see blades of grass, and not just green.'”
At Harrison, Claflin Eye Care office manager Donna Nordberg said she expected to see 60 students. In previous years, she said, they worked with only 10 or 12 students.
In the future, Claflin said he hopes the program expands.