2017 Children’s Vision Advocacy Day at the State House
The Children’s Vision Massachusetts Coalition’s 2017 Children’s Vision Advocacy Day was held on October 18 at the Grand Staircase and Great Hall of Flags, Massachusetts State House. Over 150 people attended the event with 50 advocates making afternoon visits to 55 legislators and legislative staff. By sharing personal stories and professional expertise, the advocates sent a strong message regarding the Coalition’s lead ask, H3224/S1219 to establish a children’s vision screening registry and special commission to study childhood vision and eye health, the next step to a comprehensive, universal, statewide, Children’s Vision Health Program.
Highlights of the Day
The day’s success is a reflection of the many groups and individuals who came together to share ideas, introductions, talents, and time, beginning last summer with the Advocacy Day Planning Committee. Student and staff volunteers from Boston University, New England College of Optometry, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, and Boston University School of Medicine, helped before, during and after the event.
Lisa Levin, elementary educator from the Mario Umana Academy, East Boston, and 27 students (all wearing their eyeglasses) were an inspiring example of the coalition’s vision that all children have the opportunity to develop and retain their best possible vision. Senate President Rosenberg and Representative Christine Barber provided remarks of welcome and support, and parent John Stamatopoulos shared his experience with vision care and the impact that access to children’s vision screening, eye exams, treatment and ongoing follow-up, has had on his family. Danielle Ledoux, MD moderated the Speakers’ Program and other members of the coalition participated as speakers, briefed advocates, and served as Visit Leaders. Many thanks to the coalition partners who participated as exhibitors and to our sponsors for their financial support.
Several weeks ago, the House voted to override the Governor’s veto of amendment 135, to establish a special commission on childhood vision and eye health (section 2 of H3224/S1219). The Senate has not taken up a vote on the Governor’s veto.
We Have a Commission!
A month after Advocacy Day, Massachusetts Senate voted in favor of establishing a special commission to study and report on childhood vision and eye health in the Commonwealth. This is a result of H3224 Sponsor, Representative Christine Barber’s leadership and commitment to the Coalition’s vision that all children have the opportunity to develop and retain their best possible vision; Senator Jason Lewis, Senate sponsor of the bill; Senate President Rosenberg and Chairwoman Spilka for their role in bringing this veto to a vote in the Senate; and the legislators who voted in favor of the amendment during the budget process and throughout this override process. Also because of Coalition members longstanding dedication to improving vision outcomes for children by designing, implementing and participating in Children’s Vision MA advocacy, education, advisory, research and clinical initiatives. Finally many of the advocates who made legislative visits during 2017 Children’s Vision Advocacy Day at the State House and calls to your legislators throughout the last several months had a great impact. Collectively, we have succeeded in accomplishing the next step to a comprehensive Children’s Vision Health Program for the Commonwealth.