Unlike many of Philadelphia’s children, Colbie and Addyson Sparks were able to attend school this year in-person at Our Lady of Port Richmond (OLPR). And, with the help of The Eye Institute (TEI) of Salus University’s School Vision Program their school year was made a little easier.

Addyson and ColbyAddyson, grade eight and Colbie, grade four, failed their school vision screenings two years ago and received full eye exams and glasses through the School Vision Program. 

Seeing blurry was normal for Addyson. “Before I got my glasses, I would squint, I was always behind and sometimes I barely got notes,” she said. Now that she can see, she’s become a better student. Colbie too talked about how much clearer he could see when he received his glasses – both in school and on the ball field. Dolores, Colbie’s mom, said the eye exam also revealed that Colbie was color blind.

Working closely with school nurses, TEI deploys vision care teams to schools throughout Philadelphia and beyond to provide complementary vision screenings. The Mobile Vision Care Unit, the “Big Red Bus,” as it is affectionately nicknamed, includes all the essential equipment needed to complete a comprehensive vision exam. 

Just this year, the mobile unit provided vision screenings to students from kindergarten through eighth grade at Our Lady of Port Richmond. Even with COVID, a total of 25 students who failed their vision screening received full eye exams on the bus. And, each child received two pairs of glasses, one for home and one to leave at school.

Rosemary and kids“The mobile vision bus has provided the students at OLPR the opportunity to see,” said Marjorie Karpinski, school nurse. “With corrected vision the student can actually see the board and this makes learning easier.”

The financial resources necessary to support this important community initiative come from the annual “Looking Out for Kids" charity fundraiser as well as additional support from community foundations.

The mobile van though is 20 years old, and in need of replacement. That’s why this year’s Looking Out for Kid’s charity fundraiser is concentrating on raising the necessary funds to replace the van. Now more than ever, with children in front of computer screens, making sure that children can see is critical. The fundraiser keeps the clinical facility rolling and gives kids the chance to excel.