Putting into action the organization’s motto of “We Serve,” nine Lions, representing two Frederick County Lions Clubs, recently came together on a countywide service project when 214 preschool children in the YMCA of Frederick County Head Start program received vision screenings, performed by Lions members on eight different dates at various sites in September and October. The majority of the screenings were conducted at the Head Start offices in Frederick, with the remaining screenings held at Head Start locations at the Frederick YMCA and Hillcrest and Libertytown Elementary Schools.  Approximately 137 Lions service hours were spent on this effort. This was the sixth consecutive year for the joint-screening effort.

The children were brought in one at a time to a non-invasive testing station, with Head Start staff members accompanying the children. The station utilized PlusoptiX S12C eye-vision technology to capture an image of the children’s eyes and automatically determine whether a vision impairment, such as near- or far-sightedness or astigmatism, was present. The tester holds the unit approximately one meter from the child and asks the child to focus on the smiling face on the front of the camera. At the completion of the testing, each child received a Lion sticker to indicate they had completed the screening process.

While the vast majority of children passed, readings obtained by trained Lions indicated that some of the children needed to be seen by vision professionals for potential vision anomalies. The parents/guardians of 43 children tested received written test results to indicate that their child was recommended to see a vision professional for a potential problem or was unable to be screened. The advanced technology of the PluxoptiX camera provides readings that are printed out on a label that is attached to the letter for use by the vision professional of the parents’ choice.

Colleen Ford, health coordinator for the YMCA of Frederick County Head Start, stated, “This school year, our local Lions Club members have dedicated many hours of their time helping Frederick County (Maryland) families and children by conducting vision screenings. They have participated in four days of vision screenings in September 2019 and four days in October 2019. This event is one of extreme importance to the child’s overall health and educational development. With the state of art diagnostic machine they use, if the child is a referral, the information that is printed out for the family is of great importance to the provider performing the vision rescreen. Without the generous time given of the Lions Club members, it would be a hard mandate for Head Start to complete in a timely manner.”

Lions members participating in the screenings included: Sharon Hane, Nancy Smith, Clifford Sweeney, and Bill and Rachel Wivell from the Emmitsburg Lions Club; and John Aulls and Lynn Stimmel from Francis Scott Key Lions Club.

Childcare centers or organizations that want to learn more about the Lions preschool vision screening program or to schedule a screening should contact Lion John Aulls at aulls2@comcast.net or 301-662-2360.

Lions participating in the recent vision screenings of Head Start students included:  (seated) Lion Sharon Hane, Emmitsburg Lions, and Lion Lynn Stimmel, Francis Scott Key Lions; (standing) Lion John Aulls, Francis Scott Key Lions; Lion Clifford Sweeney, Emmitsburg Lions; Colleen Ford, Health Coordinator, YMCA of Frederick County Head Start; and Lion Lions Bill and Rachel Wivell, Emmitsburg Lions.  Participating but not shown:  Lion Nancy Smith of Emmitsburg Lions

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