Thursday, October 28, 2021

Immokalee students see better after trip aboard vision van



More than 130 underprivileged and at-risk children stepped aboard a 37-foot specially outfitted mobile-vision van parked in the Immokalee Middle School parking lot. One-by-one they saw an optometrist for a comprehensive vision exam, and if warranted, were fitted for eyeglasses by an optician. The vision care screening is part of an initiative funded by Naples Children & Education Foundation, founders of Naples Winter Wine Festival. In about


two weeks, the students receive two pairs of eyeglasses; one pair will remain in the school’s office in case the other pair is lost or broken.

NCEF trustees began this pediatric vision initiative in 2012 when they learned through research that 90 percent of Collier County students who attend low-income schools and early childhood centers needed glasses, but did not have them. “If kids can’t see, they can’t



learn,” said Karen Scott, NCEF trustee and chair of the grant committee.

To find a solution, NCEF trustees raised $750,000 at the Naples Winter Wine Festival. In the first year of this three-year vision initiative, 8,000 children are being screened in seven of Collier County’s Title I schools. Approximately 20 percent of the children will be flagged for full exams, and if needed, eyeglass fittings – all taking place in the mobile vision unit. Key partners in fulfilling the initiative



are Florida’s Vision Quest and Collier County public schools.

Since 2000, Naples Children & Education Foundation, which is governed by NCEF trustees, has been dedicated to making a profound and sustaining improvement in the lives of underprivileged and at-risk children in Collier County. Through the Naples Winter Wine Festival, NCEF has raised $107 million since 2001, making it the most successful charity wine auction in the world. Proceeds



have impacted more than 150,000 children through 36 charities. Major initiatives funded in collaboration with other private and public entities have included a pediatric dental clinic and an early learning center.

The 2013 Naples Winter Wine Festival will take place Jan. 25-27. For more information about Naples Winter Wine Festival and Naples Children & Education Foundation, visit or call 888-837-4919.



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