The ‘Gift of Light’ campaign, launched in 2013, supports Conexus programs such as VisioCheck, its screening program, as well as its Mobile Vision Clinic program, a free program that provides in-school non-dilated eye exams and prescription glasses to children. The Mobile Vision Clinic exams are performed by state-licensed optometrists and, if prescribed, students are able to choose their very own pair of glasses and a Conexus optician will return a few weeks later to distribute the glasses.
“Right here in our backyard, we know that poor vision is a barrier to a child’s success,” said Tim Gresham, Conexus CEO. “We also know that the vast majority of children in our region did not visit an eye care professional before starting the school year, so our vision screenings and Mobile Vision Clinic programs are a critical component to that child’s chance at success because studies indicate that about 80% of what a child learns in a normal classroom setting is through their vision.”
“Over the years, the ‘Gift of Light’ campaign has had numerous variations, but a partnership with Virginia Eye Institute, VEI, has always been the cornerstone,” explained Jeff Baldwin, Conexus Communications Director. “This holiday season, we are proud to continue that relationship with VEI and we are extremely excited to add our friends at James Limousine and WRIC-TV 8 to the mix.”
“When so many of us Richmonders think of the holiday season, one of the first things that come to mind is the Tacky Lights,” added Gresham. “Because of Conexus, thousands of children will see these lights clearly for the first time this year!”
This year’s ‘Gift of Light’ campaign will include the opportunity for the public to support the fundraising efforts through the purchase of holiday prism glasses via a nominal donation. A limited quantity of glasses will be available at select VEI locations, at Conexus headquarters in Chesterfield, as well as at Grand Illumination on Friday, December 6th. Donations to ‘Gift of Light’ can also be made in person, or online at ConexusVision.org.
For a charitable gift of $10, Conexus can provide a child a VisioCheck screening; for a charitable gift of $50, Conexus can provide an eye exam and glasses for a child; for a charitable gift of $150, Conexus can provide screening for an entire classroom; and for a larger charitable gift of $500, Conexus can provide an entire day of Mobile Vision Clinic services.
During the 2018-2019 school year, Conexus screened over 54,000 children across the Commonwealth and 16,959 were referred for additional exams; a rate of 31.2%. The national average is 25%. In Greater Richmond, 12,006 children were screened by Conexus with a referral rate of a staggering 39%.
For the 2019-2020 school year, Conexus is providing its VisioCheck screenings for state-mandated kindergarten, third, seventh, and tenth grade in Richmond City, Petersburg City, Hopewell City, Colonial Heights City Public Schools, as well as children in Chesterfield County Title 1 public school; an estimated total of 12,000-plus children. In addition, Conexus is providing its Mobile Vision Clinic program to students in Richmond City Elementary, Petersburg City, and Chesterfield County Title 1 schools that receive referrals as a result of their vision screening.
“It is apparent that in classrooms across our region, children are struggling not because they lack ability or desire, but simply because they lack all the tools they need to succeed,” added Baldwin. “By supporting the ‘Gift of Light’ campaign, you can change a child’s life by ensuring that poor vision is no longer a barrier to their success!”
Conexus, based in Richmond, Virginia, is a private, non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization whose mission is to help every child reach their fullest potential by eliminating undetected and untreated vision problems as barriers to success in school and life. Originally established in 1957 to Prevent Blindness, becoming Conexus in 2014, the agency strives to support an unmet need within the vision community. 80% of what a child learns in school is through vision and 1 in 4 school children have a vision problem significant enough to impact learning. The Essilor Vision Foundation reports that children with uncorrected vision of less than 20/20 are 3 times more likely to fail a grade in school. Undetected and untreated vision problems impact the incidences of juvenile delinquency, adult illiteracy, and unreached potential.
Conexus views children’s vision screening, when done appropriately, as a single task strategically incorporated as part of a comprehensive program to achieve the broader objective; changing the way the consumer thinks about and takes care of their vision. Conexus believes that a comprehensive program must contain the following well established and distinct components in order to be effective: a trusting and receptive partnership, education; quality best practice screening protocols; certified and credentialed delivery; informative and dynamic method to communicate results for both pass and refer; access to care; proper data collection analysis and follow-up. Visit www.conexusvision.org for more information.