Every child in every Head Start program in Kentucky— that’s the new target population for the KidSight program in Kentucky.
Children in Head Start often do not have access to eye health resources. Yet Head Start requires that every child receive a vision screening within 45 days of enrolling in the program. The Lions of Kentucky hope the expansion will fulfill this requirement for 20,000 children. Lions will screen children living in Kentucky’s coal mining communities, from migrant farmworker families and those in impoverished inner city areas.
Lions of Kentucky are being assisted by an LCIF Standard grant for $92,312. The screenings will be done in partnership with the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation, the Louisville Downtown Lions Club and the Kentucky Head Start Association.
The Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation initiated its KidSight program in 2003. Since then, the program has screened the vision of more than 80,000 children throughout Kentucky.
Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children under the age of five by enhancing their social, emotional and cognitive development. Children enrolled in Head Start programs reside in low-income households; to qualify for Head Start, a family of four’s annual income may not exceed $23,850.
Typically, vision screenings for Head Start children in Kentucky are performed by local health departments with vision charts. While these charts may be adequate for older children without language or medical barriers, local Lions are concerned about their accuracy in screening infants and children with developmental delays. According to program data, 12 percent of Head Start children have disabilities that impede traditional vision screenings and up to 32 percent have language barriers.
Much of the grant funding was used to purchase noninvasive photoscreening devices. Many Lions clubs use these cameras to conduct their screening outreach activities. The cameras boast a 95 percent accuracy rate and provide immediate results. These devices are useful in detecting nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, lazy eye and other conditions that can be easily corrected if detected early.
Local Lions are visiting Head Start centers throughout Kentucky to conduct screenings for children who might otherwise not be able to obtain them. All children whose screenings indicate the need for follow-up care are referred to eye health professionals. Head Start staff work to find, secure and coordinate the follow-up care, ensuring that assistance does not end with a vision screening.
During a pilot program in western Kentucky in 2011, 618 Head Start preschool children received vision screenings. Fifteen percent were found to need prescriptive eyeglasses and 5 percent were found to have a serious eye disease.
Felicia Elliot, a nurse and a former Head Start program specialist, says, “This pilot proved to be of great value. I, along with the parents of all 618 of those screened children whose vision was saved are extremely grateful to the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation, the KidSight program and all its wonderful volunteers.”
Lions clubs across the country, like this one in District 14 T in Pennsylvania, host vision screenings for children.
The Lions of Kentucky expect to screen all Head Start children in the state by the end of 2015, after which local clubs will use the cameras for communitywide screenings at churches, health fairs and day care centers.
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of LION Magazine.
In the October LION, meet some 60-year Lions who made Lionism what it is today, read highlights from the 98th International Convention in Honolulu and find out how Lions are closing the technology gap for the visually impaired.
Also in this issue:
In the Digital LION, watch videos, read speeches and view award recipients from the international convention.
Like the LION on Facebook.
The Leo to Lion Spotlight will feature former Leos who have chosen to continue serving their communities as Lions to inspire other Leos to follow in their footsteps and join a Lions club. The first spotlight is on Lion Rafael “Zullu” Moreira. Rafael learned about the Leo Club Program through an invitation from a friend, and was a member of the Gama Omega Leo Club for 13 years. In May, he decided to become a Lion and joined the Gama Lions Club.
To me, being a Leo was not only about doing charity and promoting philanthropy, but also about taking the responsibility to challenge our society, promote the rights we have as citizens and better our lives. Leos are not only a group of young people; they are an immeasurable movement that respects others and their rights as human beings. Youth are the vision of the future.
I decided to become a Lion so that I could continue working with the Leo Club Program and so that future youth will also have the vision to join a Lions Club. Above all, I get to continue serving others with love, humility, joy and dedication.
The best thing about being a Lion is that Lions serve unselfishly, foster leadership and promote social ideals.
My advice to Leos is to learn what you can about becoming a Lion so that you can be a leader, assist with the Leo Club Program and create local opportunities for service. Also, never stop being humble and wise, which is what makes a great Lion.
If you are a former Leo and would like to be featured in the Leo to Lion Spotlight, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a recent trip to Peru, Brazil and Belize, I had the honor of seeing many Lions and Leos in action. And they are doing great work!
With help from a Lions Clubs International (LCIF) seed grant, Leos near Lima are spearheading an effort to provide safety, rehabilitation, job training and hope to young victims of human trafficking and their babies. Lions Quest, LCIF’s social-emotional learning program for children, is active in 30 schools in Peru!
I visited an eye bank in Caxias do Sul, Brazil, that LCIF and Lions have supported for many years. When I visited an eye hospital in Passo Fundo, Brazil, some children even surprised me with a song.
I am so proud of all the great work Lions around the world are doing each and every day. Remember to share your clubs’ great work so Lions know about the service you are providing in your community.
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
Read the rest of the September LCIF newsletter here.
As the refugee crisis continues to intensify, Lions around the world are growing more concerned. Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has approved US$200,000 to help Lions address the needs of refugees in host countries.
The Lions of Sweden and Turkey are already hard at work providing relief materials to refugees near the Greece/Turkey border. Nearly 2,000 refugees have received diapers, hygiene supplies, food and other supplies.
If your District or Multiple District is interested in aiding refugees, you can contact LCIF to find out how to request funds for local relief projects. Such projects might provide clothing, food, toiletries, and infant supplies or even address extended medical needs.
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