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Detroit Cristo Rey High School: Free eyeglasses program increases equity in learning

It was always the front row for Emilio. Sure, he was enthusiastic about his studies at Detroit Cristo Rey High School, but more than anything, he simply could not see the board.

Many of the students who attend Detroit Cristo Rey do not have access to regular eyecare, and vision impairments seriously disrupt their learning. Returning to the classroom after remote classwork during the pandemic, students cannot afford any other hinderances to their learning.

However, in the spring of 2021, with $18,000 in grant support from The Children’s Foundation, Leo and 93 of his classmates received cost-free vision screenings. In addition, 87 of these students received free eyeglasses with nine receiving specialty lenses.

According to Naomi Howrani, development director at Detroit Cristo Rey High School, “even though all of our students qualify for Medicare, oftentimes their glasses will break before they can get replacements, or they will exceed the number of free repairs covered by Medicare. When this happens, our families can’t afford to buy replacements.”

With renewed confidence, Emilio was able to improve his grades and socialize more as he was able to sit by his friends during class.

Because of their eyeglasses, students will not only be able to read calculus and biology notes on the whiteboard, but they will be better prepared for success throughout high school and beyond.

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