Ronald McDonald helping school children to see more clearly

News-DemocratApril 7, 2014 

Kindergartner Miracle Moore wanted rainbow-colored glasses Monday as she gazed at a selection of frames on one wall of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile at Westhaven Elementary School in Belleville.

The Care Mobile didn't have any rainbow glasses, but Miracle, 6, tried on an orange pair before picking her glasses -- ones with bright pink frames. It took only a few minutes for the glasses to be made, and Miracle couldn't have been more pleased.

"They look pretty," she said. "I like them."

Miracle even got a plastic purple case to store her glasses in and a cloth for cleaning the lenses.

The Care Mobile is what school nurse Nikki Boze describes as a "LensCrafters on wheels." Students, who failed pre-screenings administered by Boze, received a comprehensive eye exam and, if needed, new glasses, all inside the mobile clinic, which has an optical lab where eyeglasses are produced on the spot.

Miracle gave the eye doctor, Kim Folwarski, a hug before heading back to class.

More than 1,100 students have visited the Care Mobile since Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis launched it last year, according to Terry Burke, the Care Mobile's coordinator. Of those children, more than 900 have received a free pair of glasses.

"They can come here for an hour and get a full exam and a pair of prescription glasses, and then go back to class," Burke said.

Some Westhaven students were disappointed Monday if they didn't need glasses, but the Care Mobile staff had something for them as well -- sunglasses.

Like Miracle, Westhaven fifth-grader Ikaria Johnson got a new pair of prescription eye glasses.

"I like them very well," she said. "I can see a lot better."

Monday marked the Care Mobile's first visit to St. Clair County. Burke said the mobile eye clinic has visited a school in Alton, but this was its first time in Belleville.

Belleville School District 118 Superintendent Matt Klosterman was impressed with the set-up inside the Care Mobile. "This is like a one-stop shop," he said. "It's pretty cool."

The Care Mobile serves 14 counties in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Schools request to be visited by the mobile clinic.

Boze said she asked the Care Mobile to come to Westhaven after receiving information in the mail about it.

"I had wanted one forever," she said. "It's so hard to get them (students) to get their glasses."

Boze explained some parents often struggle financially but also have difficulty finding transportation. "This works so well when they come to us," she said. "It's like Christmas."

The mobile clinic not only served children at Westhaven Monday, but students from Henry Raab and Roosevelt elementary schools and Central Junior High School.

In all, Boze said 15 students were seen by the Care Mobile and 12 of them needed prescription eye glasses. "It turned out really unbelievable," she said.

For more information about the Care Mobile, visit http://www.rmhc.org/ronald-mcdonald-care-mobile.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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