| Apr 12, 2007


Feature Article - April 12, 2007

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Feature Article - April 12, 2007

Lions volunteers screen area school children

The thing we all see about service clubs is their fundraising activities. What we don’t always see is what they do with the money they raise. The Lions Vision Screening program is a perfect example of how fundraising meshes with volunteer service to fill a gap in our community schools.

A child’s entire classroom education depends on being able to see well. We all know stories of kids who struggled for years with school until someone thought to test them, but the system pays very little attention to kids’ eyesight. Sometimes teachers pick up cues, but there are no regular health department or school board programs to check basic sight quality. Enter the Lions Vision Screening program. Lions clubs in Verona, Sharbot Lake and Sydenham have volunteered to check every child in senior kindergarten and grade one in Clarendon, Land o’ Lakes, Hinchinbrooke, Sharbot Lake, St. James Major, Verona, Harrowsmith, St. Patrick and Loughborough Public Schools in several areas of visual performance.

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The first part of the project was the purchase of a screening kit - at about $12,000 - which is shared with the 48 clubs of this Lions zone. Sydenham Lion Mary Ann Smith is the chairperson for our district’s Vision Screening Program. She has trained people to do sessions in many dozens of schools from east of Toronto to east of Sydenham, and she was at every one of the screenings in our area. With this kit, volunteers can test a child’s sharpness of vision, distance vision, and ability of the two eyes to work together. Once the program was in place, an area Lion set up times with each of our schools for members to go in and screen the students. Each participating student got a report to take home, which told parents whether the child had passed or failed the broad exams, and suggested that those kids who seem to be having difficulty – about 30% of students - be taken for a professional eye exam. Not all of these kids will be found to have a serious problem, but about one in six kids does. That’s five students in a class of 30 who might have had to struggle for years, undiagnosed.

It takes a lot of people to screen the kids, which is probably why it’s not being done by paid professionals. But one strength service clubs have is willing volunteers, and thanks to them, some of our kids will get the help they need. The volunteers are: from Sharbot Lake: Dawn & Dave Hansen, Richard Hicks, Gail Jackson, Bill Morton, Bill Pyle & Luc Salvador. From Verona: Ed Botting, Wayne Conway, Louise Day, Don Kelsey, John McDougall, Inie Platenius, John Steele & Frank York. From Sydenham: Shirley Fox, Doug Gerow, Wray Gillespie, Jim Kelly, Vic Smith (and Mary Ann, of course) & Velma Young.

PHOTO caption:

The Sydenham and District Lions Club participated for the first time this year in doing vision screening at Loughborough Public School. Vision Screening is a service provided by the Lions Clubs for screening the eyesight of Senior Kindergarten and Grade 1 students.

This service is very appropriate since Helen Kellar challenged the Lions many years ago to become the "Knights of the Blind".

Above: Lion Mary Ann Smith, Sydenham and District Lions Club

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