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Prevent Blindness sites WVU for excellence in vision and public health

The Children’s Vision Rehabilitation Program (CVRP) was selected by the Prevent Blindness organization as a 2020 Jenny Pomeroy Award recipient for Excellence in Vision and Public Health.

Prevent Blindness applauded CVRP’s approach to meeting the needs of blind or visually impaired children. This one of a kind program, led by WVU Medicine’s Rebecca Coakley, MA, CLVT, helps provide resources to improve the abilities of the “whole child” – and not just the child’s vision.

"Children with vision impairments face obstacles that their sighted peers never encounter such as access to information, socialization and obtaining a driver’s license,” Coakley, who serves as the CVRP program director, said. “CVRP creates opportunities to address the deficiencies that they may have due to their vision loss.”

To address the “whole child”, CVRP established many programs to address the needs of children with vision impairments. These programs help those affected regain a sense of independence in the visual environment now and in the future.

“The most rewarding part of my job is I get children at birth with a visual impairment or blindness,” said Coakley. “The families are facing a “new normal”, afraid and thirsty for knowledge.  I have the opportunity to play a role in the evolution of a family unit.”

Founded in 1996, CVRP’s mission is to provide a visual environment to those who have incurable vision loss, specifically school-aged children. CVRP is a “needs-based” program, meaning it responds to the individual needs of visually impaired children, teachers, parents, and other professionals in the state of West Virginia, completing over 2,000 evaluations for the visually impaired.

“My initial training and employment were out of state, but if you are a West Virginian you eventually come home,” she said. “This program is fluid, it changes to meet the needs of the children.”

For more information on the Prevent Blindness Jenny Pomeroy Award for Excellence in Vision and Public Health, please visit https://www.preventblindness.org/jenny-pomeroy-award-excellence-vision-and-public-health.