One of my favorite informal annual traditions is stopping in to see Milwaukee Public School students get their free glasses from Wisconsin Vision after having been examined and tested by optometrists, opticians and volunteers from Wisconsin Vision.
This year, the program’s ninth, in partnership with the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association and Milwaukee Public Schools, Wisconsin Vision provided eye exams to about 200 students at Clarke Street School on the North Side and Zablocki Elementary on the South Side.
Those students, ages 4-14, were ones who did not pass vision screenings in October. They received prescriptions and fittings for glasses and those glasses were distributed this week – Tuesday at Zablocki and Wednesday at Clarke Street.
"Each year, we identify some students who are legally blind without glasses," Wisconsin Vision's Beth Bush has said, noting that undetected vision problems can seriously hamper a child's learning.
"We want our young people to have all the tools they need to be in school every day, ready to learn," said Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley, in a statement. "We thank Wisconsin Vision and the MTEA for their work to ensure our students can see and actively participate in their classes."
"Comprehensive healthcare, including vision and dental care, is a human right," added Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association President Amy Mizialko. "Eighty percent of K-12 learning is visual, and approximately 25% of students in grades 1 through 6 have vision impairments. When children can't see, they face challenges in learning."
Since it was launched in 2010, the Clear Days Ahead program has distributed more than 1,100 free pairs of eyeglasses to MPS students.
Here are some photos of the distribution of eyeglasses Wednesday morning at Clarke Street School:
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.