Dr. Susanna Fostiak of Lumen Optical examines the eyes of a King Arts student. Submitted photo

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On Nov. 16 Dr. Susanna Fostiak of Lumen Optical Evanston gave eye examinations to 10 students from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School (King Arts) to determine whether they needed glasses. All 10 received prescription glasses. 

Dr. Fostiak’s vision tests were follow-ups from in-school vision screenings conducted annually by school nurses and health clerks as part of an ongoing partnership among Lumen Optical, School District 65, and Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.). Lumen offers free services to students with limited access to optometry. 

Christopher Rapisarda, Community School Manager at King Arts, said these students were selected either because they did not pass the first screening tests or they required follow-up. “Their families were then contacted and consented to participation in this opportunity.”  All students were eligible to participate, Mr. Rapisarda said, though priority was given to students based on need as determined by in-school social workers. 

In 2017, 22 students from Chute Middle School participated in the program, and 20 needed glasses.  Ismalis Nuñez, Director of Equity & Family and Community Engagement at District 65, said, “The program was quite successful [at Chute Middle School] and was expanded to serve King Arts students when it became a community school site in fall 2016.”  A community school site is a public school that partners with local community organizations and resources.  Both Chute Middle School and King Arts have a full-time Y.O.U staff member who coordinated and supervised the students while they visited Lumen Optical. 

Ms. Nuñez said, “The goal of this partnership is to remove barriers to learning and support students to be successful in the classroom. … It also removes logistical barriers, such as providing transportation to Lumen.  Another goal of this partnership is to raise awareness among students and families that community schools offer resources not typically found in a school setting.” 

Ms. Nuñez added that in addition to these visits, Lumen Optical Evanston and District 65 instituted a voucher program to provide vision services to children throughout the District.  “This opportunity allows identified students at other District 65 schools to go to Lumen Optical within a designated timeframe and receive the same services at no cost.”

Lumen Optical came to Evanston in December of 2016  “…with a commitment to philanthropy,” said Ms. Nuñez.  “Working with the community brings a sense of bonding,” said Dr. Fostiak.  “We are all in this together.  We are kindred spirits on this earth working together.   It’s so diverse here in Evanston, and it’s really nice to provide more opportunities to our local students.” 

Mr. Rapisarda said, “The hope is to continue vision clinic trips to Lumen Optical two times each school year.  The voucher program will resume in 2018 with spots available to a limited number of students across District 65.”