Simsbury, CT Teen Plans to Bring Vision Screenings, Prescription Glasses to Haiti

Simsbury's Daniel Peluso's, 17, Eagle Scout proposal to travel to Haiti and provide people there with eyeglass screenings was rejected but he decided to take the project on anyway. For six days in June, Peluso will travel to Haiti with a seven-person team to provide free eyecare screenings to Haitian (Mark Mirko | mmirko@courant.com)
Simsbury’s Daniel Peluso’s, 17, Eagle Scout proposal to travel to Haiti and provide people there with eyeglass screenings was rejected but he decided to take the project on anyway. For six days in June, Peluso will travel to Haiti with a seven-person team to provide free eyecare screenings to Haitian (Mark Mirko | mmirko@courant.com)

The first thing Daniel Peluso, now 17, noticed after getting his first pair of glasses five years ago were the leaves on trees.

“They had just been blurry to me, like a green blob,” Peluso said. “When I noticed [the leaves], my mom describes it as just a remarkable smile spreading across my face.”

Now, Peluso wants to give others the chance at the same experience.

On June 7, Peluso will fulfill his Eagle Scout project by hosting a free vision screening clinic at a Hartford homeless shelter. One week later, he’ll take the program to Port au Prince, Haiti.

Peluso chose Haiti after conducting research and learning about how vision problems can affect students’ learning in school.

“It’s something a lot of people take for granted in suburban America,” he said.

The Haiti trip was pitched as Peluso’s Eagle Scout project, but the Boy Scouts of America Connecticut Rivers Council turned down the trip for being too ambitious, Peluso said.

Peluso said he had two options after the proposal was rejected: cancel the whole thing, or complete it anyhow.

“I thought it would be a waste to just throw it all away, so I continued my plans,” he said.

Peluso has raised about $8,000 of his $15,000 goal to cover the costs of the trip, which is scheduled for June 13-19. A seven-person team will accompany Peluso to Port au Prince.

Peluso said while they hope to work with at least two Haitian ophthalmologists to help with screenings, the team will be equipped with a machine designed to quickly and accurately measure eye prescriptions.

Each team member will have a specific role in the assembly line, with Peluso and Troop 175 scoutmaster Brad Mead building and adjusting glasses.

Peluso and Mead underwent one day of training at Harvey & Lewis Opticians, where they learned to build glasses with plastic lenses.

The company is providing about 500 pairs of prescription glasses, as well as pre-made reading glasses, for the project, said president James Lewis.

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SOURCE: The Hartford Courant – Jordan Otero