Last Wednesday, leaders from the Tzu Chi Foundation joined Borough President Eric Adams in front of Borough Hall to kick off See 2 Succeed, an initiative to identify visually-impaired students in kindergarten through third grade and equip them with free corrective lenses.
The mobile vision clinic will carry licensed optometrists and volunteers who will conduct the free screenings and prescription glasses.
“The vision mobile van not only help children see, but also creates opportunities for a new vision for Brooklyn,” said executive director Freeman Su.
Founded in Taiwan in 1966, the Tzu Chi Foundation has offices in 58 countries, and expanded to the United States in 1989. It is not only an international non-governmental organization (NGO), but it also has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
The organization has four missions: charity, medicine, education and humanity.
Su said the Tzu Chi Foundation hosted the same program in Fresno, California, providing 2,500 free screenings for 16 school districts in one year. They gave out more than 550 free glasses.
He expects to have a similar impact in Brooklyn, which the organization chose to come to next because of the borough’s diversity.
“Many children do not know that they cannot see,” he said. “These students with undetected vision problems struggle academically.”
According to Su, the program will begin in Brownsville and Sunset Park. After its time in Brooklyn, See 2 Succeed will head over to the Bronx.
Adams said the mobile component of the initiative is important because it provides the service in Brooklyn neighborhoods.
“Eyeglasses not only allow for a child to see clearly, but it allows their future not to be out of focus,” he said.
With the mobile clinics parked in front of Borough Hall, the borough president gave the screenings a try himself. Afterward, he said he was impressed by how quickly he was treated.
“It’s using technology in a real way,” Adams said. “This is not shoddy equipment.”