Sarah Peslar is a clinical social worker at Children’s Hospital of Michigan
Nearly 1 in every 5 children is near-sighted or has a vision impairment requiring glasses to see at school. While it goes without saying that clear vision is imperative to a student’s success in school, not every child has an opportunity to access resources like eye exams or glasses. Many students who receive healthcare coverage through Medicaid also cannot access eye care due to a low reimbursement rate or lack of locations that accept Medicaid. Additionally, some plans only cover one pair of glasses every two to three years.
Hamtramck Public Schools is committed to engaging, elevating and empowering students, which includes providing them with the tools they need to be successful and improve school performance, like glasses. Because of this, Hamtramck SEES was born.
Hamtramck SEES, which began in 2017, has an annual operating budget of $21,000. The program is funded in partnership with The Jewish Fund and the Children’s Foundation. Students get their eyewear from a local Pearle Vision franchise. The owner, Ali Thabet, provides the district with a generous discount and range of frames for students to choose from. Located in Hamtramck and featuring many bilingual staff members, Pearle Vision is easily accessible and welcoming to all families.
One of the best parts about working with students is getting to see their lives change for the better, whether that’s through the robust academic program at Hamtramck Public Schools or upon receiving new glasses.
“My student was so joyful upon receiving her glasses,” said Kristina Gerstacker, an HPS teacher. “The new glasses have not only given her a confidence boost, but they’ve given her the opportunity to clearly see the world around her.”
“During my decades as an educator, I have known many students that have received free glasses,” said Christopher Wilinski, an HPS teacher. “The effect is immediate. The students pay more attention and interact more during class discussions.”
Roughly 800 students have benefited from Hamtramck SEES since its inception in 2017. Many of these students never had eyeglasses before and receiving them is a life-changing event. The school district is proud to support its students in every way it can.
“Each and every student who has received glasses has displayed a huge positive shift in attitude when it comes to learning,” said Samuel Bell, an HPS teacher. “Instead of looking withdrawn and frustrated, these students are now happy to be involved with classmates and contribute to the classroom discussion.”
If your child needs help with their vision, learn more about the Hamtramck SEES program by contacting me at SPeslar@hamtramckschools.org.