New project on campus aims to help women in the Shawnee County Adult Detention Center

A new project on campus aims to provide reading glasses for women in the Shawnee County Detention Center. Professors from the theatre and English departments have started the project to provide glasses for women in need.

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A new project on campus aims to provide reading glasses for women in the Shawnee County Detention Center. Professors from the theatre and English departments have started the project to provide glasses for women in need.

Many people in the world have experienced complications with their eyesight in their lifetimes and not everyone has access to the tools necessary to see clearly.

According to the World Health Organization, 2.2 billion people have distance vision impairment, and half of these cases could have been prevented or addressed.

Feb. 1 marked the first day at Washburn University where the very first project, dubbed “Donating Old Glasses,” began. The project aims to help people living a life of incarceration at the Shawnee County Adult Detention Center to address their difficulties in vision by providing used glasses.

This project is focused on collecting old glasses and is part of a program called Intersection To Care, which empowers resiliency in women in their journey to recovery. As women in prison can participate in different activities to foster positive changes in their physical and emotional health, development and self-esteem. Doing all this will help them recover from past trauma and develop the confidence they need to build a new life after prison to reintegrate into society.

The main goal of this project is to help women who need support to feel empowered so that their life can be as they dream of. As providing reading glasses may seem small to some, but for those who have vision problems, not being able to read can be a challenge in their day-to-day lives.

It is an eco-friendly way to supply eyeglasses that are no longer of need to those who cannot afford new glasses to receive their cure. When they donate their old eyeglasses, they’re giving someone the gift of improved vision, which would significantly affect their quality of life.

Sharon Sullivan, professor and chair of Washburn’s theater department, said that it started in March and will last until April 28.

“We all need a little help sometimes, especially when we’re trying to change our lives or create new habits and things like that,” Sullivan said. “For this campaign to be completed, the women’s and gender studies minor collaborated with the English department, as chair, Dr. Melanie Burdick has done a lot of work with incarcerated women before also.”

Sullivan mentioned that they have a liaison on-site at the jail who joins with the ladies directly so that each person who signs up for the program will get a volunteer mentor who will help to deliver them with glasses which makes them easy to engage in other activities.

Both Sullivan and Melanie Burdick, chair of the English department, thought it would be a great idea to collect glasses for those suffering ladies. It is just a small help for those women readers at the Shawnee County Detention Center where there are usually 75 to 80 women coming to detention centers on a given day, and many of them don’t have good health; not only that, but they also don’t have access to care either.

Women are struggling to read because of their impaired vision. Even if they are allowed to have reading glasses, they don’t have that much of a supply inside. If they can donate the desired number of glasses, then the women present would have easy access to reading and doing other basic day-to-day tasks.

Tiffany Mack, a sophomore majoring in mathematics, volunteered with the project because she believes in its importance.

“We should support individuals and ensure that they have, at a minimum, adequate resources available to support long-term physical and mental well-being,” Mack said. “Further promoting development and necessary healing by integrating a more realistic approach, we are supporting them to achieve and maintain a more balanced, productive, fulfilling and complete life.”

They have gathered a nice collection of about 15 pairs of old reading glasses to donate, which is only halfway to their goal.

Small changes are the stepping stones for change. If anyone wants to donate their old glasses, they can drop them off at the English department office in Morgan Hall, Room 237.


Edited by Glorianna Noland and Aja Carter