Haverhill Promise’s Toulouse Receives $20K Grant to Support Citywide Children’s Vision Care Efforts

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Haverhill Public Schools staffer and Northeast Regional School Nurse consultant Shanyn Toulouse is poised to bring expanded eye care to the city through participation in a new program backed by the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health, she tells WHAV.

Called “Better Vision Together,” the program Toulouse is taking part in is a team-based effort where eight groups across the country collaborate to brainstorm ideas and develop action plans to improve children’s vision programs in at-risk and minority populations. Haverhill was selected in addition to teams based in California, Idaho, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota. The city was awarded a $20,000 grant, she said.

Toulouse is using her platform to bring attention to the collaboration between Haverhill Promise and Haverhill Public Schools, which work together to get all children reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade.

As Toulouse explains, vision screenings and school readiness go hand-in-hand. While vision screenings and early identification of childhood vision problems are one focus of the project, eye exams and other comprehensive services are also key components. The Haverhill team is also concentrating efforts on parent education and outreach.

“We’re excited to have this opportunity to work together in order to better engage parents, caregivers, and the community at large,” she tells WHAV. “This funding will help support our work to decrease disparities and barriers in early identification of vision problems and improve access to vision care for young children in Haverhill.”

Locally, the partnership will include thought leaders from the Haverhill Early Learning Leadership Team and representatives from the Mount Washington Alliance as well as parent leaders in the community, Toulouse said.

Sally Fuller, a community-level reading consultant for Haverhill Promise, is thrilled Toulouse is bringing attention to the correlation between early literacy and vision care.

“We know that healthy kids are healthy readers. Our vision work through this grant will help us to ensure that our children are on track in their physical, social and emotional development so they can become successful learners and proficient readers,” Fuller said.

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