Organizations provide health screening for PPS school kids

It makes sense: If kids can’t see, they can’t read! Find out which groups chipped in to help kids do better, in this outer East Portland grades school …

Essilor Corporation worker Derek Olson says he’s volunteering to help with the eye screening project. Here, he’s testing Somboun Khanh’s eye coordination.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For the first time, hundreds of Portland Public Schools (PPS) students at seven schools got health screenings – covering vision, dental, and hearing – thanks to a collaboration involving local and national partners.

We took PPS up on their invitation to come see the screening take place at Harrison Park K-8 School (just off SE Division Street, near the I-205 freeway; formerly known as Binnsmead Elementary) on October 16.

“The concept behind this is to make sure our kids are prepared to learn,” said PPS spokesman Andre Jackson, who met us at the school. “When you speak about academic achievement, if a young student cannot hear or see, how can they achieve even the most basic reading skills? Our goal here is to provide an opportunity to meet the basic needs for our kids, so they can learn in a classroom.”

Philippe Gurand of Essilor Corporation checks the records of a student about to take an eye test.

Jade Wilson, from Mrs. Walker’s third-grade class, takes her turn reading the eye chart – one eye at a time.

Asked how much PPS was spending on this program, Jackson responded, “The district does not spend a one dollar on this program.  It is sponsored by generous regional and national partners.”

Many of the students, Jackson noted, are from low-income families; about 95 percent of the students are eligible to receive free- and reduced-price meals, and this school participates in the Title I program.

“Students who need additional eye care,” Jackson stated, “will receive full eye exams and two free pairs of glasses, along with follow-up exams and replacement glasses for the next two years. Those who need dental or hearing care will be referred to specialists.

Pointing to letters during an eye test is Ryan Allen, who works in PPS procurement and distribution – he is volunteering today.

The young Harrison Park students appeared to enjoy the health screen activities held at the school. They queued up by classes for their turn, as volunteers checked their vision and hearing – the dental area wasn’t available to tour – and health care workers recorded the results of the screening tests.

Jackson said these screenings result from a partnership involving Portland Public Schools, Essilor Vision Foundation, Multnomah Education Service District, Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation, VSP (Vision Service Plan), Prevent Blindness America, Portland Trail Blazers and Martell Webster Foundation.

Cory Winchell, an audiologist with Multnomah Educational Service District, turns hearing tests into a fun game for this Harrison Park student.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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