At the launch of the Henry J. Austin Health Center’s ‘A Vision for Trenton Youth’ exhibit, the atmosphere was a celebration of creativity and conversation. Surrounded by art from both students and seasoned artists alike, the halls of Artworks were transformed. Throughout the evening, guests were welcomed to bid on many of the masterpieces on display. But, although the artwork was beautiful, the real star of the evening was Trenton’s youth.

The ‘A Vision for Trenton Youth’ initiative allows children in Trenton Public Schools to access the vision care and corrective lenses that so many desperately need. 100% of the funds raised from this exhibit went towards funding free vision screenings and glasses for students. Data suggests that 1 in 4 students in public schools lack the eyeglasses they need to see the board, read a book, or participate in class.

In underserved communities, 95% of the children who need corrective vision care cannot access it. The capacity to see is critical, especially in early learning; up to 80% of learning during a child’s first 12 years is visual. Without corrective vision care, students may be more prone to headaches and have difficulty focusing in school. Thankfully, the Henry J. Austin Health Center has stepped up to help bridge this gap and provide students with the necessary resources to thrive. Through events like the exhibit and silent auction, HJACH can educate the community and engage residents on how to best support our youngest Trentonians.

The art featured in the evening’s exhibit was twofold: auction pieces from local artists and an expansive hall of artwork from Trenton’s students. By allowing the students to participate in a meaningful way, they were allowed to get involved and tell the community of their own visions for their future. Whether the student’s artwork focused on their families, a social cause they believed in, or what their community meant to them, the artwork gave incredible insights into the wants and needs of our city’s next generation. By showing up and giving them a voice now, we can help to guarantee a brighter future for all.

After the evening started with a workshop, hors d’oeuvres, and enriching conversation, guests had the opportunity to hear from some of HJAHC’s staff regarding what this cause meant to them. Per Elona Deprez, HJAHC’s Chief Development and Communication Officer, “Every time I drive to Trenton, to Henry J. Austin, I am reminded that not every child has the opportunity to go to a doctor as my children do. My children are privileged. And that is why we’re here: to support the Trenton community and our children. That’s what we’re trying to do here tonight: give them the help they need and the opportunities they need to succeed.”

Charles Davis, Chairman of HJAHC’s Board of Directors, stated, “A lot of children, as you may or may not know, are suffering in school, not because of aptitude, but because they just simply can’t see clearly. So how do we address that need? This entire department is fundamental. We’re quite proud because they are history maskers. We are proud of the team and the board under the leadership of myself, and show all of the gems that the city of Trenton has.” He continued, “We believe that the children of this community, and quite frankly, the children of the state, are the gems that we need to invest in. So your support not just tonight, but as we move forward, is not just an investment in ourselves today, but our future tomorrow.”

The speeches concluded with HJAHC’s CEO, Dr. Kemi Alli, who stated, “I am a pediatrician by training, and one of the reasons I went into pediatrics is because I love children. They have a certain sense of innocence, and they are so moldable; you can shape them, you can help create them, and influence them when you’re part of their lives.” Continuing, she noted, “As I came to work in Trenton, and I’ve been working in the city of Trenton for close to 24 years, I learned that we do have the power to influence the children that we interreact with. It’s almost like a pebble in a pond; when you drop that pebble, you can have a ripple effect. We hope that tonight is the start of that ripple effect so that we can change the lives of the children we interact with positively so that they have lives that are fulfilled and successful.”

As the evening ended, guests continued to mix and mingle throughout the gallery. The exhibit’s launch is just the beginning of this incredible campaign, and we cannot wait to see lives transformed due to this beautiful initiative. If you want to learn more about the program and would like to support the A Vision for Trenton Youth campaign, additional details are available here: HJAHC – Vision to Learn. Watching our city’s children thrive is a sight to behold, and we cannot wait to see their vision for our city’s future.

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