The Antrim Bennington Lions Club partnered with school nurses at the elementary schools in Antrim, Bennington, Hancock, Francestown and Greenfield during the week of September 28 to provide free vision screenings for children from PreK to the fourth grade. A total of 362 children were screened by Lions club members at the schools with 5% being recommended to see an eye care professional for further evaluation.
Heather Boyd, the RN at Francestown Elementary School said “The screening in our school was organized, the people from the Lion's club were friendly and the whole process went smoothly. I am grateful that the Lion's Club offers this to the students here.”
In addition the Lions Club also screened 19 children at The Grapevine Family & Community Resource Center the same week, the youngest being seven months old. Melissa Gallagher, the Interim Executive Director at The Grapevine said “this year, nearly all of our families with young children participated in the Lions Club Vision Screen. The screen is quick and provides parents with an easy- to-read printout. During childrens' preschool years, when reading and writing skills are developing, it is especially important to catch vision issues early. We very much appreciate this valuable, free service to our community."
The Lions were only able to screen four children at the Home and Harvest Festival on September 19, a lower number than hoped for. This event needs to be better publicized as it is one of the few ways we have to reach young children who are not yet in daycare or elementary school.
More than 12 million school-age children in the United States have some form of vision problem, yet only one in three have received eye care services before age six.1 Many vision problems run the risk of becoming permanent if not corrected by age seven, when the eye reaches full maturity. Vision also plays an important role in education. According to educational experts, 80 percent of learning is visual.
“Early screening leads to early detection, which helps ensure that children get the follow-up care they need,” said Dick Loveland, the Club Coordinator for vision screening. “We want to make sure that correctible vision problems don’t stand in the way of our children learning and seeing the world clearly.”
The screening event is part of a nationwide initiative called Lions KidSight USA, a national coalition that brings together Lions programs that screen children from 6 months to 6 years of age. KidSight USA was developed by Lions in the U.S. to protect the eye health of America’s children in their early years. Lions in the U.S. currently screen more than 500,000 children per year. Learn more about Lions KidSight USA at KidSightUSA.org.