Kids deserve the best start we can give them

A little boy sits at the back of the classroom.

At the chalkboard up front the teacher is explaining how to read, or how to do basic addition and subtraction.

The boy fidgets in his chair, seemingly uninterested in the lesson.

When the teacher asks him to read the word on the board he leans forward a bit, looks overwhelmed, then cannot answer the question.

Chances are even he doesn’t know that his difficulties are not because of any kind of learning challenges but because he can’t see the words and numbers like his fellow students can.

His eyesight didn’t change overnight and he doesn’t know the difference.

Maybe an alert teacher will catch the problem, maybe one won’t.

Now, in the Cowichan Valley School District, children and their families won’t have to rely on that maybe.

We applaud the decision by District 79 to partner with B.C.’s optometrists to get all kindergarten kids an eye exam, and a pair of glasses free of charge if they need them.

School can be hard enough for some kids without being left behind just because everything’s blurry.

It’s ridiculous when there’s such an easy fix. Eyeglasses, after all, are hardly a new technology.

We must do everything we can to ensure our children have the opportunity to succeed.

In spite of our public, universal school system, it is no secret that some kids still have advantages over other kids right out of the gate. Some of that can be about natural talents or learning disabilities, but some of it is about the kind of home life they have or socio-economic status.

No kid should be disadvantaged because their parents can’t afford to get them a pair of glasses if they need them.

This is a good step. Next up, getting kids dental check-ups if they haven’t already been having them.

The negative effects that poor dental health can have on people are well-known.

Dental problems that kids experience often just continue to snowball as they move towards adulthood.

Correcting them later certainly doesn’t get any cheaper.

We have a system right now where those at the bottom of the scale can get good care through programs such as welfare.

The working poor, however, who fall just above them on the economic scale, struggle.

Many will argue that these folks are adults and responsible for themselves and their own situation.

The same cannot be said of children. We have to step up for them.

Kids can’t go out and get a better job or some overtime so they can pay for their fillings.