Sometimes the information that comes across the transom is surprisingly cool, and as my son is an avid basketball fan and player, I’m particularly interested in hearing about basketball. In particular, about professional basketball players who are doing well, giving back to their community and really stepping up their game to serve as a positive role model for children like mine. There are other athletes who seem to act more like overgrown children, earning millions but being terrible role models, unengaged citizens and often more of a blight on their community than a blessing, and it’s every parent’s nightmare that their children will look up to these self-absorbed athletes.
That definitely doesn’t describe Tyreke, however. A New Orleans Pelicans NBA player Tyreke Evans is a big guy at 6’6″ and a solid player on the team, averaging 14.5 points and 5 assists per game. He’s been in the league five years, long enough to become jaded and forget about his upbringing and home town, but he hasn’t. He’s very aware that he grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania, a town that’s been around since 1682, one of the first three counties designated as such by William Penn. It’s an area with some serious history and the home of Valley Forge, if you remember your American Revolutionary history.
It’s also an area with a lot of poverty. With over 25,000 people below the poverty line, it’s also one of the cities at the top of the White House Strong Cities Strong Communities initiative. That’s why Evans has worked with VSP Vision Care for five years running — since he started in the NBA — to bring a mobile vision testing lab back to Chester and help make sure that the children at the greatest risk of falling out of the system have the glasses they need to have great eyesight.
Why is that important? Evans explains that 60% of kids with learning problems have an undiagnosed vision problem, and encourages all parents to have their children’s eyesight tested annually starting when they’re two.
I’m lucky: my children’s school offers a free vision exam each year. I have all three kids tested each year too, and in the last 12 months both of the younger two have had vision problems identified and now wear reading glasses. Beats continual headache complaints, I can attest!
The schedule while they’re in Chester sounds cool: a mobile eye clinic — the 45-foot mobile eye exam clinic truck is shown above — will visit City Hall, the Chester Boys & Girls Club, Chester Memorial Park and Chester High School, offering free exams for both children and adults. At the same time Evans will host a free basketball clinic for Chester High students. He’ll also be hosting a reading hour, encouraging children to try out their new glasses by getting into the habit of reading, though we don’t know exactly what he’ll be sharing with them. Perhaps dramatic readings of my blog posts, now that I think about it!
More seriously, it’s really great to read about young athletes like Tyreke who recognize that giving back to the community can be something both fun and rewarding, and I’m sure that all those kids — and parents! — who get new glasses and a chance to bump fists with a local legend are quite appreciative of his dedication to the community.
Nice one, Tyreke. Keep up the good work!
You can learn more about how often your children should have their eyesight tested (and how often you should go in too) at SeeMuchMore.com.