Since 2014 FYIdoctors’ has provided a nation-wide outreach program to support Canadian children’s education: Better Sight. Better Grades (BSBG). This program offers underprivileged children 13 and younger who may be experiencing vision problems with a complimentary eye exam and glasses. Studies show that 80% of classroom learning is visual, and since many children can’t recognize when they are having vision problems, they can easily go undiagnosed and have a significant negative impact on their performance in school.
As an extension of the BSBG program, FYidoctors will be partnering with organizations and individuals that share a similar vision. One initiative will be sponsoring Calgary Reads’ upcoming Reading Rally on February 21, 2019. Similar to how FYis BSBG program aims to equip children with the tools they need to do well in school—by providing them with adequate eyecare—Calgary Reads’ mission is to inspire children with a passion for reading that will set them up for success academically and beyond.
Did you know that there are only 2,000 days from birth to age six? These days lay the fundamental groundwork that can impact a child’s confidence and life trajectory in terms of their performance both in school and in the long-term, their career. Reading is a vital part of learning, especially for young children whose brains are experiencing critical and rapid development. “We don’t think about it, but we can’t get through a day without reading,” explains Steacy Collyer, Founder and Executive Director of Calgary Reads. “It’s not like breathing, we have to learn it”.
“We now know, because of everything we’ve learned about the human brain, that children are preparing to read long before they ever get to school,” says Collyer, “not every parent realizes that from day one their infant needs to be surrounded by words and hearing people talk.” Studies have shown a clear correlation between a child’s vocabulary, their reading level and what their future may look like. Collyer goes on to explain, “the vocabulary of a three-year-old correlates to their grade three reading score, and the grade three reading score of a child is the best predictor of some of their life trajectories.”
The Reading Rally is a celebration of reading and books. It is an on-going event held by Calgary Reads that tours schools throughout Alberta, with a particular focus on communities that have a high population of children from lower socio-economic backgrounds. These areas may therefore have fewer resources in place to help kids learn to read. Collyer describes that “the purpose of the reading rally is to have this reading joy ‘explosion,’ so it’s fun and [it gets] the kids engaged in this act of reading.” School gyms are transformed into interactive, carnival-like reading spaces and at the end, the students receive a special bag of books that they get to take home and keep.
At least 13.5% of children in Alberta are living in poverty, which amounts to over 41,755 children (Alberta Child Poverty Report 2017). These children are far less likely to have access to resources for developing their reading skills, and even fewer have access to eye exams, which have the potential to identify underlying vision issues that impact learning. With over 25% of school age children experiencing vision problems, and thousands of children going undiagnosed and untreated for even the most basic vision problems, a key piece in developing their literacy and reading skills is ensuring they have the eye care they need.
To learn more about FYidoctors’ commitment to children’s vision and learning, visit our blog. Interested in getting involved with Calgary Reads? They offer a wide range of initiatives and volunteer opportunities, visit their website to learn more.