LOS ANGELES -- Every student in the Los Angeles Unified School District who needs an eye exam and glasses will be getting them in a partnership with the L.A. Clippers Foundation.
The team, along with owner Steve Ballmer and star Blake Griffin, announced Tuesday that over the next two years LAUSD students in kindergarten through 12th grade will be provided free exams and glasses.
Of the district's over 600,000 students, an estimated 15 to 20 percent need glasses, but don't have them in part because their families are low income and have difficulty finding affordable vision care.
"I truly believe in this program," Griffin said. "If you get behind in first grade, then you're behind every grade from then on."
Griffin says he was inspired to join the team's efforts because his older brother Taylor struggled with poor vision as a child. Taylor Griffin accompanied his brother to Lovelia P. Flournoy Elementary in south Los Angeles on Tuesday.
"I was always so jealous that he got to wear glasses and I didn't. I wanted to do everything he did," Griffin said. "I remember thinking about like the next time I go to the eye doctor I might just fudge this test a little bit so I could get some glasses, but I never did."
Blake Griffin put glasses on a succession of students who lined up to meet him.
"The kids were very, very excited," he said. "It's also really cool because they get to pick out their glasses, they get to pick out the color, it makes it like personal for them. When you get to do something like that and not just wear a generic pair of glasses, I think they really take pride in it."
The eye exams are underway at all LAUSD schools. The program includes student visits to Clippers games and future school visits by Ballmer, Griffin and other Clippers.
Three years ago, the Clippers worked with non-profit Vision To Learn to bring vision services to 12,000 students in Inglewood. Last year, the team helped 80,000 students in Long Beach, and now the program is expanding all over Los Angeles.