Using his poor vision as a catalyst, Ishan Agarwal, an Indian American high school senior in Illinois, created a nonprofit to help poor students in India improve their vision.
Agarwal, who told the State Journal-Register that he can’t read anything more than 2 feet away, created the “Project See Well Do Well” nonprofit, which has helped about 3,000 students in India get eye screenings and supplied 177 students with prescription glasses.
The 17-year-old senior at Chatham, Ill.-based Glenwood High School, told the publication the idea to form a nonprofit started with an article he read four years ago detailing how students with poor vision struggle in the classroom.
Reading the article made him think of the struggles he would have reading without glasses and thought, “What’s the point of going to school then?” the report added.
That thought stuck with him, and an idea clicked when Agarwal went to see an optometrist as part of an eye examination required by the state for Illinois for schoolchildren, it said.
He wondered how routine eye exams are in foreign countries, thinking of India, a place his parents emigrated from and that he and his family visit every year.
Agarwal told the publication that eye exams are not required for schoolchildren in India, which ultimately puts many students in positions of going to school without the necessary glasses they need to read and perform well.
The senior studied how to administer a Snellen Chart, an eye chart with rows of letters big and small used by optometrists to measure visual activity, and then took his newfound knowledge and used it to train teachers at four schools in Navsari, India, when he traveled there with his family in January 2016, the report said.
He also contacted the Rotary Eye Institute in India, which agreed to have its optometrists volunteer to help with the vision screening, it said. The Indian American also reached out to a wholesaler in India and used $900 friends and family donated to purchase glasses for students, according to the publication. The hope, down the road, is to expand the program.
More information about the nonprofit can be found by visiting www.shdynasty13.wixsite.com/mysite.