• Wiregrass Foundation funds health programs with the objective of promoting healthy behaviors and improving access to healthcare. The Foundation has invested over $5 million since 2005 in its target communities for health-related projects.  Beginning in 2016, our health programs began focusing on fostering economic growth and development to improve the health and well-being of Wiregrass individuals, families, and the community as a whole.

  • WELLNESS word cloud, fitness, sport, health concept

  • Impact Alabama – FocusFirst


    Poor vision has a direct, negative effect on a child’s ability to learn, and many children suffer from vision problems each year.  Therefore, vision screenings are very important during a child’s preschool years when early identification and treatment of many conditions can prevent irreversible vision damage or loss.  Many child care centers use traditional eye charts for screening, but this technique does not identify many major vision problems. Due to a lack of public awareness about this crucial time in a child’s vision development and the fact that a preschooler doesn’t have the capability to understand his or her own vision loss, eyesight problems may go undetected.

    FocusFirst provides free vision screening to children six months to five years of age in Head Starts and daycares throughout Alabama.  All children failing the screening receive free, subsidized follow-up care through their partner, Sight Savers America.  During 2014-15, FocusFirst screened 38,023 preschoolers in the state of Alabama, 2,107 of those right here in the Wiregrass.  206 children failed the screening and were sent to Sight Savers for subsidized follow up care to include referrals, more extensive eye exams, and other appropriate treatment.

    During 2015-16, FocusFirst utilized WF funds to conduct screenings for 2,275 children in the Wiregrass. This year they conducted screenings using the technologically advanced Spot digital screening systems.  The advantages of this technology over the previously used film-based technology include the ability to analyze virtually 100% of results for vision abnormalities (previously 2-3% of results were unanalyzable), and screening results are instantly available.  Results are transferred to Sight Savers America almost immediately, reducing the time between screening and the beginning of follow-up care.


  • Sight Savers America – Wiregrass Program


    Access to eye care is critical and has a dramatic impact on a child’s life. Unfortunately, children’s eye care is often neglected for reasons beyond their control, including uninformed parents, prohibitive expense, lack of medical insurance and geographical distance from services. Children with poor vision often struggle with their educational and social development and can be misidentified as learning disabled or having behavioral problems. Sight Savers America (SSA) provides eye care to children in need and case manages each child’s eye care, increasing parental awareness, educating parents about their child’s eye care needs and coordinating follow-up services until each child’s needs are met. As part of the case management process, SSA provides eye exams, eyeglasses, vision therapies, medications, surgeries and other treatments through the utilization of insurance coverage or through discounted or donated eye care services. SSA also places life-changing high tech vision aids into children’s homes improving their independence and self-esteem. Improved vision has a profound impact on children, enhancing their ability to read and succeed in school and in life.

    During 2014-2015, Sight Savers America was awarded a WF grant to support follow-up eye care for preschool children in the Wiregrass area who failed a FocusFirst (FF) vision screening (also partially funded by WF). SSA has provided the intervention and follow-up eye care component for every pre-school child failing the FF vision screening since its inception. This case managed follow-up eye care ensures that children make it to a local optometrist or ophthalmologist and receive all necessary eye care treatment. Through other funding, SSA also provided follow-up eye care to hundreds of students in grades K, 2, and 4 in the Wiregrass Area. In total, 696 Wiregrass area children were referred for eye care services during 2014-2015. Of those, 223 children received a pair of eyeglasses, 6 children received other treatments and continuing specialist care, 49 were found to have healthy vision after a full eye exam, and 268 had their eye care handled by parents with SSA assistance. Additionally, 68 children were referred for potential amblyopic factors which, if left untreated, can cause permanent vision damage. Furthermore, Sight Savers America provided one Multiview Electronic Video Magnifier, one monocular telescope, and talking calculators to children with severe visual impairment.

    During the current 2015-2016 program, SSA estimates 275 preschool and over 700 total children at risk for unmet eye care needs will be referred to SSA in the Wiregrass area. Their standard for success is 80% or more of the children referred attain their best possible vision.