Healthy Insights from Healthy Learners: Healthy Learners Students Share Their Success Stories

Posted on April 4th, 2018

In 25 years, Healthy Learners has provided more than 59,000 vision, dental, medication and other health related services to more than 12,600 individual students across South Carolina on its mission for healthy children, better students and thriving communities. The latest issue of the Healthy Insights from Healthy Learners newsletter shares the story of four of those students who Healthy Learners helped remove their health barriers to learning. The full text of their stories is below.

Making a Difference:  Healthy Learners Students Share Their Success Stories

Relief for a Hard-Working Mother—and Her Son
Winslow Hill’s mom was a hard-working single parent of two, working first shift to make ends meet for her family. She had medical insurance through her employer, but not dental coverage.

When her son Winslow, an 11th-grade student at Greenwood High School at the time, needed dental work, Healthy Learners was there to help. Winslow was living with tooth pain from a few teeth that had cavities and needed to be filled. The pain would get worse after lunch, which led to headaches and difficulty paying attention in class—taking a toll on his grades.

Winslow’s school nurse referred him to Healthy Learners to get the dental care he needed at no cost and transportation to appointments over the course of a year since his mom could not take time off from work. The dentist filled Winslow’s cavities and gave him health prevention information for avoiding future cavities.

“Without the help from Healthy Learners and the amazing people I met, I believe problems with my teeth would have continued going uncorrected,” said Winslow. “It meant a lot to have someone with me every step of the way. I felt loved and cared for. They created a warm environment and I felt like family.”

After graduating from high school, Winslow studied at Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood. Now 26, Winslow works as a warehouse fork lift operator at SPF North America in Hodges, South Carolina.

Winslow’s mother said she greatly appreciates the services and commitment her son received. “Healthy Learners went above and beyond. It makes a mother feel relieved that her child was being taken care of even when he wasn’t with me. They always made sure my son got home or back to school safely. Thank you,” she said.

Glasses Help Third Grader See Path to College
As a third grader at South Kilbourne Elementary School in Columbia, Atiya had difficulty seeing the board in the classroom, which made it difficult for her to focus on learning. Without health or vision insurance and with a single mother struggling to support four children, the school nurse connected Atiya and her mother to Healthy Learners.

Healthy Learners scheduled an eye exam for Atiya and transported her to the appointment. After getting her first pair of glasses, Atiya could clearly see what her teacher was writing on the board. She began to excel in school, taking honors classes from third grade until she graduated from high school.

Atiya is now a freshman at Benedict College majoring in early childhood education. She expects to graduate in 2021 and attributes part of her success to Healthy Learners.

“Healthy Learners is a great organization and I will forever be grateful that they helped me get glasses when I needed them. They helped me get to where I am today,” said Atiya.

Overcoming a Learning Barrier
It’s not surprising that children who cannot see cannot learn. That’s why Healthy Learners has helped thousands of children get eyeglasses since 2000. One of those children who has been helped is Blanca Mojica. Blanca was in high school in Greenwood, South Carolina, when she began having trouble seeing the boards in school, making it difficult to take notes and keep up in her classes.

Around the same time, her family situation changed. Her mother became a single mother of three and her family did not have health or vision insurance. Apart from the difficulty of paying for an eye exam and glasses, it would have been a struggle for her mother to take Blanca to appointments.

Healthy Learners ensured Blanca received the eye care she needed at no cost to her mother, as well as dental care and transportation to appointments.

Being able to see the front of the classroom made a big difference in her ability to learn. No longer struggling to see, Blanca graduated from high school in 2016. She began working at a factory in the production area and was quickly promoted off the factory floor and into the role of an administrative assistant in the facility’s office.

She attributes her education and ability to learn while in school to her success at her current job.

A Burden Lifted Leads to More Focused Learning
Alatyana Sanchez’s family was struggling to make ends meet. She was attending Allendale-Fairfax High School in Fairfax, South Carolina, when she was referred to Healthy Learners. She did have Medicaid, but it was still difficult for her to get proper eye care. Healthy Learners transported her to vision appointments at provider partners for several years.

“Without the glasses I received, my school work would have been much harder to read, especially the text books,” said Alatyana.

She said Healthy Learners allowed her to focus on what she had to do as a student and not “will I be able to see the board? I wish I had glasses.” She is now a student at the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie and hopes to transfer to the main campus in Columbia to major in theater. “Healthy Learners took some of my burden and made it their own and I will forever be grateful for that,” she added.

Healthy Learners is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.