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Highmark Blue Shield grant to provide eye glasses for students in underserved schools

Highmark Blue Shield has granted $10,000 to Penn State Health in support of a community health initiative to cover standard vision assessments and the cost of eye glasses for students in need in the Lebanon and Steelton-Highspire school districts.

In 2018, Penn State Health partnered with the Lebanon County Career and Technology Center to provide required health assessments for height, weight, vision, hearing and scoliosis for students in kindergarten through 12th grade in Lebanon and Steelton-Highspire. More than 5,500 students were assessed, and over 18 percent of the students in the two districts were determined to need vision follow-up for glasses or other eye concerns.

This year, in partnership with the Lebanon Free Clinic and Penn State Health’s Department of Ophthalmology, the community health team offered three clinics in Lebanon and Steelton to provide health assessments and follow-up care referrals. Highmark Blue Shield’s 2019 vision grant will provide free glasses for more than 100 students who need them.

“It has been estimated that 80 percent of children’s learning is obtained through vision,” said Judy Dillon, community health director at Penn State Health. “When children can see well, they can be more successful in school. By providing glasses for kids in need, Highmark is giving these students greater opportunity to succeed in school and in life.”

“When we are able to impact so many children with this kind of gift, it is really wonderful. Think about the return on the investment of having a role in helping a child learn better; that is something they will use for years and years,” said Kathy McKenzie, vice president of community affairs for Highmark Health. “This continues to be an impactful partnership with Penn State Health and this is another really good example.”

Steelton-Highspire School District in Dauphin County and Lebanon School District in Lebanon County were selected for this initiative based on their community needs index (CNI) score from Penn State Health’s 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment, which indicated that both school districts had a high percentage of children in need of additional resources and services.

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