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FocusFirst is a cost-effective direct response to the vision-care problems of children who live in urban and rural poverty in Alabama.
A signature collaboration between the Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility and Impact Alabama, undergraduate and graduate students serving as FocusFirst volunteers ensure that children ages six months to five years in Head Starts and lower-income daycares are screened for vision problems and receive subsidized examination, diagnosis, and treatment. Since the launch of FocusFirst in November 2004, over 3,590 student volunteers from more than ten campuses throughout Alabama have screened more than 356,500 children in all 67 counties across the state. A potential vision problem was detected in approximately 11 percent of those children, all of whom received, or are receiving, subsidized follow-up care as necessary through Sight Savers of Alabama.
Coordinating the statewide initiative, UA continues to be the leading participant in our statewide screening efforts. Since 2004, approximately 1,070 UA students have served with FocusFirst, screening more than 26,000 children in 14 counties. Seventy UA students participated in screenings across eleven counties during the 2017-18 academic year, reaching more than 2,000 children.
Several UA classes partner with FocusFirst in a service-learning capacity. They include UH 103: Honors Health Action, SPE 100: Exceptional Lives in Society, and UHP 331/MGT 491: Poverty, Faith, & Justice in America.
The University of Alabama is a leading campus for FocusFirst volunteers. FocusFirst is a signature program of Impact Alabama: A Student Service Initiative, Alabama’s first nonprofit dedicated to developing and implementing substantive service-learning projects in coordination with more than twenty universities and colleges throughout the state.