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Opening Doors for Children & Families

I Can See Clearly Now

I have pretty bad vision. I have worn glasses or contacts since I was in grade 3 and remember vividly getting them. I accepted it even at a young age and this was my nonsensical logic; I look exactly like my mom - my mom has bad vision - I assumed it was my fate. Recently one of my nephews was told he needs glasses. He just turned 5 and during his vision test they discovered he is far sighted. He wasn't too happy about the fact he had to get glasses (as you can tell by the picture) because, "None of his friends have glasses!" But now that he has them he thinks they are alright, although he "Can't wait until he's a teenager so he can get contacts."

At ABC Head Start we have a wonderful crew called the Head Start Health Team. The team is made up of nurses and a dental hygienist from Alberta Health Services. They provide hearing, vision, height, weight and dental screening for all Head Start children. I have written about how spectacular they are in a past blog called A Trip To The Dentist. Our work with the Head Start Health Team is critical and this week in particular we recognized how just how critical it is.

Children from low income families tend to be more at risk for health related issues. Research shows that poverty is a contributing factor to overall health which then becomes a social cost to society at large. The Head Start Health Team has helped dozens of ABC Head Start children get glasses and other vital appointments and services to contribute to their health.

One of our ABC Head Start children this year was identified with needing glasses. He has quite poor vision in one eye. As it sometimes happens with 4 year-old's, his glasses were broken. The family was in an unfortunate situation where their income level qualified them as low income for our program, but they were just over the low income cut off for the Alberta Child Health Benefit. No access to the Alberta Child Health Benefit meant that they could not replace their child's glasses. Anyone who wears glasses knows how expensive they can be but if your vision is poor enough and you need "special lenses" then the price sky rockets.

This was the case for this little guy. The price of the replacement glasses were high, the parents only had half of the money needed and were devastated that they couldn't replace them. They were told without the glasses their son would have to wear a patch over one eye as not to drastically impact the vision of the other eye.

ABC Head Start's dedicated staff and the Head Start Health Team went right to work. They went above and beyond, reached out to their contacts, advocated for the family; the family who fell between the cracks of our system. And low and behold our wonderful Head Start Health nurse, Cindy, created a partnership with Pearl Vision to replace the glasses for FREE! It's instances like this that the dedication of all our hard working staff shines. It truly makes an impact in a child's life.

Thank you, Pearl Vision, for donating the glasses! And thank you to our Head Start Health Team who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty to advocate for ABC Head Start's children and families.

With the support of volunteers, ABC Head Start Society is able to support vulnerable children and families throughout the year. Volunteers contribute by sharing their ideas, talents and energy to events, on our Board of Directors and fundraisers, and in providing direct support to children, parents/caregivers and families.