Gallery: OneSight Helps Out at the Fresh Air Fund
More than 3,000 New York City kids will have their vision screened.
This article is an online-extra for INVISION.
I never attended summer camp as a kid but I did grow up with a huge, grassy backyard and, thanks to the Girl Scouts, my fair share of camping.
It’s one of those things I took for granted as a pretty universal childhood experience. But for many low income urban children it’s not surprising that things like swimming, hiking and sitting around campfires roasting marshmallows are totally foreign concepts. Sadly, nor is it surprising that many don’t have the resources to properly see and enjoy the experience.
Through the Fresh Air Fund, for well over a century, thousands of inner city kids have gotten to experience all of that and much, much more each summer. And thanks to OneSight, Luxottica’s vision care foundation, for the last 12 years, many now actually have clear enough vision to appreciate it better than they otherwise would have.
I was recently invited by OneSight and the Fresh Air Fund to visit their Fishkill camp during one of the days the OneSight vision care clinic would be on site screening, examining and dispensing eyewear to these kids.
From July 2 through August 13, OneSight’s EyeLeen, the mobile vision care unit sponsored by LensCrafters, will visit all five of the Fresh Air Fund encampments at the Sharpe Reservation in Fishkill, NY. EyeLeen is fitted with all the equipment necessary to provide a full diagnostic eye exam to those kids whose vision screenings indicate further care is needed. The OneSight mission is staffed entirely by volunteers, including optometrists, opticians, technicians and Luxottica Wholesale personnel, to provide quality care onsite. On the day I visited, Fabrizio Uguzzoni, president of Luxottica Wholesale North America, was on site helping to conduct vision screenings.
“We are incredibly proud to support the OneSight clinic in Fishkill this year,” he said. “As a founding sponsor of OneSight, these clinics have become a core part of who we are at Luxottica – we are more focused than ever on raising awareness around the vision crisis and helping to provide access where it’s needed most. This particular clinic will give more than 100 of our New York employees an opportunity to have an impact close to home.”
Over the course of the four weeks, more than 3,000 New York City kids will pass through the vision screening process and if last year is any indication, some 1,700 pairs of glasses will be dispensed. The Fresh Air Fund camps at Sharpe house kids starting from age 8 up to age 15 and on this particular day, I witnessed the Tommy Camp, boys aged 12-15, being ushered efficiently through the process.
The OneSight mission is staffed entirely by volunteers, including optometrists, opticians, technicians and Luxottica Wholesale personnel, to provide quality care onsite.
Those early teenage years, particularly I’d imagine for boys from underserved neighborhoods, are rough and I wouldn’t have been surprised to have witnessed a surplus of attitude and some degree of acting out; but instead I was struck by how enthusiastic and well-behaved the boys were. In fact, as I learned from Dawn Yager, Vision Care Clinic Manager for OneSight, this is the day many of these boys look forward to most.
“There are kids that will come to camp with their broken glasses and we hear them ask their counselors ‘When is our Vision Van Day? I need new glasses.’ That’s what great about this program, we see repeat visitors year after year. If you think about the financial burden a pair of glasses has on a family, and if they have more than one kid who needs glasses, it’s pretty big,” she said.
It’s a burden OneSight is more than prepared to tackle. “We stock about 4,500 frames and about 6,000 lens combinations or more. In a week we can see a lot of kids,” added Yager. And that inventory gets replenished each week from their distribution center so they start each week with fresh inventory.
Additionally, difficult vision corrections can also be accommodated, so no kid is left in need. “We have an expanded range of prescriptions on the van, we’re at about a 90 percent rate of what we can manufacture on site,” she said. “Those that cannot be made on site are sent to our OneSight lab in Cincinnati and then sent back here within 4 to 5 days and the Fresh Air Fund will mail them to the kid’s house. The glasses are all pre-fit so they fit when they arrive and they can also go into any of our retail operations and have them fitted once they receive them if they need additional adjustments.”
And the kids are not the only ones who are grateful for OneSight’s presence. “The Fresh Air Fund's partnership with OneSight is a vital one in providing our campers with free eye exams and glasses that improve their ability to experience their summer with us, but as well when they return to their communities and schools during the year,” said Fatima Shama, Executive Director of The Fresh Air Fund. “Thousands of our campers have benefited from this extraordinary program, and we look forward to many more great summers together.”