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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Vision screening helps Seven Mile boy see clearly

Renelda Alden and Bradley Swift from Seven Mile suspected their 5-year-old son Braden had a vision problem because he squinted all the time. So the parents were happy when they heard he would get his vision and hearing screened in Head Start. 

They spoke with the health educator from the Sensory and Development Screening program in San Carlos about his results and were given a referral to take him for an eye exam, which confirmed that Braden needed glasses. 

The First Things First San Carlos Apache Regional Council funds developmental, hearing and vision screenings to improve the number of screenings for young children in the region, like the screening Braden received. According to the American Optometric Association, vision – or a child’s visual system – is responsible for about 80% of their learning, so it’s important that young children are screened early.

“I am happy this was caught early before it affected his progress in school,” Alden said. “I’ve also noticed that Braden seems less frustrated and more calm now that he can see well. Braden was so happy to get his glasses, and I remember he said things like, ‘Now I can see, and now I look like my Dad!’”

Swift, Braden’s dad, noticed that Braden doesn’t sit right on top of the television anymore or hold his tablet up to his face. 

“I have seen a definite improvement in Braden’s sports as well, his baseball and basketball games have improved, and he just seems happier and more confident,” Swift said. “I took him up to the Forestry Department with me one day, and we heard airplanes going over. Braden excitedly said, ‘Dad, I can see airplanes now and helicopters, too!’ The glasses and the ability to see to the fullest have been a life changer for Braden, and we are so grateful.”

Now, the parents encourage other parents. 

“It is important to get your child screened early to catch problems or delays early so they don’t get behind in school,” Swift said.

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