Haley GMC Buick General Manager, Barry Moore, has made children’s vision a top priority this season. After learning that as many as 1/3 of the students in some of our most economically and academically challenged schools need but don’t have glasses, he wanted know how he could make a difference this holiday season.
Haley GMC Buick has teamed up with our friends at Virginia Eye Institute to bring some additional support and recognition to the Conexus holiday fundraiser, Gift of Light.
Haley GMC Buick has issued coupons for a free “Pit Stop” where their team will check air pressure, alignment, and fill windshield washer fluid! Haley is donating $1 to the Gift of Light campaign for every coupon redeemed, and customers will receive a $10 service card from Haley towards their next visit! In addition to donations from the Pit Stop, Haley GMC Buick will donate $30 to the Gift of Light campaign for every car sold during the month of December!
Thanks so much to our friends at Virginia Eye Institute for helping us to grow the Gift of Light Fundraiser, and welcome aboard to our new friends at Haley GMC Buick! Together we can make a great difference this holiday season!
Celebrating our 100,000th student served through our technology based children’s vision screening program is a significant milestone and we have many people to thank for this achievement. However, there are a handful of pivotal moments that really created turning points and opportunities to reach these heights and on this path to 100,000 a key investment from longtime supporters Horst and Gloria Arfert is one of those moments.
In 2015 Conexus established a scholarship fund to help defray costs and support VisioCheck programming to some of the more underprivileged Virginia communities. Horst and Gloria made the first sizable donation to this fund which allowed us to reach 22 diverse school divisions and 30,000 students across the Commonwealth.
This was the first large scale “statewide” VisioCheck delivery. This gave Conexus the opportunity to collect extensive data, identifying trends and service needs across Virginia. Successful programming at this level helped Conexus to be successful in the 2017 General Assembly, making changes to the VA Code to support improved children’s school based vision screening, and encouraged the development of a study with VCU to recommend VisioCheck as best-practice programming.
The scholarship fund is fully expended each school year to reach the maximum number of students possible. We are making great progress through the investments of those who believe that no child should unsuccessful in school simply because they need a pair of glasses. We hope you will be as inspired as we’ve been through people like Horst and Gloria, to make a difference. Become a member of our 2020 monthly giving Club. $20/month will provide Visiocheck programs to 2 full classrooms of students, finding more than 9 who need vision correction.
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As we march on to our 100,000th student served we’re taking a look back at some of the most pivotal moments in expanding technology based comprehensive children’s vision programs in Virginia. As Conexus was experiencing tremendous success in the Pre-K W.H.E.E.L.S program, our thoughts quickly turned to our partners in the public schools.
Conexus had long supported the vision screening needs in Virginia’s public schools and the idea of introducing technology to improve the process was exciting. In 2012 the Cameron and John Randolph Foundations jointly funded the first pilot initiative to test the Conexus technology based comprehensive children’s vision program in the public schools. Over the period of 45 days Conexus delivered the program to over 4,500 students in 20 schools in 6 school divisions across the tri-cities region, finding 27% of students with a potential vision problem. The program delivery was followed by a focus group of nurse participants for program evaluation and critique.
We learned two important lessons through this pilot: 1. Technology based comprehensive children’s vision programming could be successful in the public school population and 2. It would have a tremendous impact on effectiveness and efficiencies for schools and students.
We want to offer our thanks to both the Cameron and John Randolph Foundation for seeing the potential of using our experience gained from the W.H.E.E.L.S. program to grow and expand services to an even larger population. Virginia mandates the school based vision screening of more than 360,000 students annually. Cameron and John Randolph recognized the potential for not only their students but also saw the value in supporting the development of a program that could have statewide ramifications.
This pilot effectively launched Conexus programming into the public schools statewide and we are grateful for the vision of these two funders.
As we begin the countdown to serve our 100,000th student through our technology-based comprehensive children’s program, we are especially grateful to some of our supporters and funders who invested in the early work of our programs.
MEDARVA, once known as Richmond Eye and Ear, was the initial funder of our technology based screening in Richmond. MEDARVA was so confident in the work of Conexus, they granted a five-year award to explore the possibilities! Conexus hit the ground running and worked with a panel of early education experts to develop a best practice vision and hearing screening program for Pre-K students, which came to be known as W.H.E.E.L.S.
By year five Conexus had delivered W.H.E.E.L.S. programming to more than 16,500 Pre-K students, referring over 3,600 for follow-up vision care. Technology, incorporated into a comprehensive program, had proven itself to be efficient and effective and parents and schools were pouring in positive responses to the Conexus program and services.
In 2015, at the close of five years, MEDARVA was so pleased with the outcome of the W.H.E.E.L.S. program they elected to use the project as a stepping stone to create their own MEDARVA branded Pre-K hearing and vision screening program.
MEDARVA’S good instincts to invest in Conexus' programs not only created an opportunity for MEDARVA to branch out into Pre-K screenings, but it acted as a catalyst for Conexus’ explosive growth. Through the early work of W.H.E.E.L.S, designed solely for local delivery to a maximum of 3,500 Pre-K students annually, Conexus was able to create what’s become known as VisioCheck. VisioCheck is currently serving more than 30,000 Pre-K through 12th grade students annually across the Commonwealth, with the capacity to reach 200,000 in Virginia alone. We are so thankful for one of our earliest investors who helped us to start small but gave us the capacity to think big!!
The results are in on the first school to be fully serviced through Richmond Mobile, a collaborative effort between Conexus and California-based Vision To Learn. Services to this school not only confirmed the tremendous need for vision services in Richmond, but also demonstrated the value of this collaborative partnership!
Conexus programming identified 126 students in need of follow-up vision care (32% of enrolled students). Redd staff immediately went to work to encourage participation in the mobile clinic and were able to secure 104 (83%) returned parental permission slips! For two and a half days the Vision To Learn team delivered 104 onsite eye exams and prescribed 97 (93%) pair of glasses.
The success rate of this launch school has been overwhelming! Through the efficiencies and effectiveness of VisioCheck, more of the “right” students were identified for the services of the mobile clinic. The visiting Vision To Learn optometrist from Detroit said on the first day, “not only did we see 34 students, we prescribed 34 pairs of glasses - that NEVER happens!” One of Vision To Learn’s most difficult challenges in their service delivery across the country is getting the right kids to the clinic and that all starts with the screening — a process that is normally handled through the services of the host community. “The first thing I did when I got finished today was call my boss to tell him, ‘we need this!’”, said Dr. Megan, VTL optometrist.
Conexus purposefully and meticulously designed the VisioCheck program with some of the most common challenges of school based vision screenings in mind and watching VisioCheck operate so effectively in conjunction with a mobile clinic has been very rewarding. We are excited to be a part of such a dynamic partnership and one with such potential for growth and service!
At the October 10th Annual Board of Directors meeting, pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Ed Wortham completed his term, rotating off the Conexus Board of Directors. Dr. Wortham has been a long time friend, supporter, and advisor to Conexus and we are grateful for his service. The good news is that Dr. Wortham will continue to serve as Co-Chair of the Council for Pediatric Vision!
Replacing Dr. Wortham on the Board is Dr. Evan Silverstein, author of our study on technology based screenings. Dr. Silverstein, also a pediatric ophthalmologist, has already demonstrated enthusiastic leadership as a member of the Council for Pediatric Vision and we are honored to have him as a member of our Board of Directors.
Wishing Corrine, our VisioCheck Screening Technician, and her new husband Alex Berry all the best in their marriage!