The Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award recognizes significant efforts by an individual or group of individuals to improve public health approaches for children’s vision and eye health at the state or national level. The award was established in 2014 by the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health Advisory Committee to commemorate Dr. Bonnie Strickland and her groundbreaking work to establish a comprehensive system for children’s vision in the United States. Strickland served as Director of the Division of Services for Children with Special Health Needs, Maternal and Child Health Bureau before her retirement in 2014.
The recipient of the seventh annual “Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award” is Ms. Shavette L. Turner, Vice President, Children’s Vision Services at Prevent Blindness Georgia (PBGA), in recognition of her leadership and expansion of the “Children’s Vision Services of Prevent Blindness Georgia” program.
Ms. Turner has been named as the 2021 Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award recipient for her unique approach to helping disadvantaged and underserved youth across Georgia access vision and eye care, with emphasis in Hall County where there is a significantly large Latinx population who experience barriers to eye care. She observed the significantly high rate of children who did not pass a certified vision screening (23 percent) in Hall County, compared with the state average of 8 – 10 percent. She also observed that many children were not receiving the follow-up care they needed when she returned for screening the next year and some children’s vision had deteriorated.
Turner employed a variety of methods to break through the many barriers to eyecare – coordinating the assistance of more than 200 volunteers. She leveraged resources from Prevent Blindness, as well as the local eye care community, Univision, United Healthcare and National Vision, Inc. to provide services for a vulnerable group of immigrant children who were not receiving needed eye care services.
Turner and her team of volunteers provided vision screenings to every elementary school child in the county school system – 9,005 children in 20 elementary schools from kindergarten through 5th grades. For the 1,665 who did not pass the vision screening, all were invited for free comprehensive eye exams and were eligible to receive free prescription eyeglasses, if needed. Eye examinations were provided during Saturday clinics thanks to the donation of time and talent from pediatric ophthalmologists and optometrists and Spanish-language translators. Additionally, Turner secured in-kind donations of equipment, eye drops, and fabrication of prescription eyeglasses. As a result, 93 children were identified as having Amblyopia and almost 300 students are starting the school year in brand new glasses thanks to Turner’s efforts.
The award will be presented to the recipient at the Annual Meeting of the NCCVEH to be held virtually on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021.
The award consists of a commemorative plaque, recognition and opportunity to present at the Annual Meeting. The award recipient will be featured on the NCCVEH website with an overview of their innovative approaches to children’s vision and eye health systems. An all-volunteer committee for the Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award will review all nominations and select the award winner.
Nominees for the Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award may include individuals (such as a parent advocate, legislator, or professional) or a group comprised of diverse stakeholders, including family and community leaders, who are implementing changes to improve children’s vision and eye health in the United States. The NCCVEH seeks nominations of individuals or groups who seek out new and innovative solutions to common barriers to healthy vision in children. Nominees should be able to demonstrate an impact in one or more areas of a public health system supporting children’s vision:
- Key Stakeholder Engagement or Collaboration, including representation from families and diverse racial/ethnic/geographic and socio-economic levels target populations
- Training and Education
- Public Awareness
- Provision of Resources and/or Services
- Surveillance and Accountability
- Reduction of Health Disparities
- Infrastructure Development- Local, State, or National Level
2020: Logan Newman, NBCT, ABO, MS Ed, Program Developer and NYS Certified Science teacher and Career in Technical Experience Teacher at the East High School Vision Care Program.
2019: Anne L. Coleman, M.D., MPH, UCLA Stein Eye Institute. Dr. Coleman is the Fran and Ray Stark Foundation Professor of Ophthalmology at Stein Eye Institute of the David Geffen School of Medicine; Vice Chair, Academic Affairs, UCLA Department of Ophthalmology; Professor of Epidemiology in the UCLA Jonathon and Karin Fielding School of Public Health; Director of the Stein Eye Institute Center for Community Outreach and Policy and president-elect of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
2017 Recipient: Sean P. Donahue, MD, Ph.D., Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Donahue was selected by the volunteer Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award Committee for his efforts to improve children’s vision through stakeholder engagement, volunteer coordination, and advancement of vision screening technology.
2016 Recipient: The Illinois Eye Institute (IEI) at Princeton Vision Clinic based at the Illinois College of Optometry. The IEI at Princeton was selected by the Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award Committee for its consistent and on-going commitment to addressing the unmet visual needs of Chicago Public School students.
2016 Honorable Mention: Vivian James, PhD, North Carolina Preschool Exceptional Children Coordinator for the Office of Early Learning – State Board of Education, Department of Public Instruction. Dr. James was recognized for her exceptional work in North Carolina to improve vision screening systems as they relate to public health professional training as well as special education eligibility determinations.
2015 Recipient: The Pediatric Physicians’ Organization at Children’s (PPOC) based at the Boston Children’s Hospital in Brookline, Massachusetts. The PPOC was selected by the Award Committee for its consistent and on-going commitment to introducing proven and innovative new approaches to pediatric vision screening and care to providers and patients in the medical home setting.