By Erin Beck, Editor
Some Shinnston sixth graders may start doing better in school, be less likely to get hurt, and feel more comfortable and confident playing sports and games with their friends, thanks in part to the Shinnston Lions Club.
That’s because last week, the club offered free vision screenings to more than 100 sixth graders at Lincoln Middle School — and because poor eyesight makes it harder for kids to participate in normal activities.
David Minor, president of the club, said the Shinnston Lions Club offers eye exams to Big Elm Elementary School and Lincoln Middle School each year.
Members used the “Spot” electronic device, which quickly scans for signs of vision problems.
“It’s close enough to know whether they need to see an eye doctor or not,” Minor said. “It gives them a general idea that their student may be having some trouble.”
Following testing on Dec. 7, school officials notified guardians that 13 kids should follow up with eye doctors for more comprehensive exams.
Kids with vision problems have to work harder to learn, and may experience eyestrain, headaches and fatigue, the American Optometric Association states. Early detection is important.
Meanwhile, kids may not say anything because they assume everyone sees the world with the same struggle.
Some kids at the screening event were nervous, while others were excited, according to Minor.
“A lot of them don’t know what to expect,” he said. “Some of them are happy to have it done. But mostly they enjoy having it done because it gets them out of class and they get to associate with different people.”
The event also gave kids a chance to see a volunteer group of adults working in service.
Minor said the Lions Club will hold a similar event at Big Elm Elementary during the second half of the school year.
The club worked in collaboration with Harrison schools nursing staff.
The Lions Club also helps people with vision problems in other ways. Adults and children in need may contact the group for an application, and those who qualify for financial assistance may receive free eyeglasses. The Lions Club has a standing arrangement with Dr. Robert Powelson, an optometrist in Shinnston, for that service.
They also have an eyeglasses recycling drop box at the Price Cutter. According to the Lions Club International website, that effort is part of a global project to provide corrective lenses to people who lack access to basic eye care services, while simultaneously minimizing landfill waste.
The club raises money through mop and broom sales, breakfasts and other efforts, Minor said.
According to the Lions Club International website, Helen Keller inspired the group to advocate for the blind and those with other visual impairments in 1925.