Lions Club

Vision can have a huge impact on a child’s education, which is one reason why vision screening is so important when they’re young.

The Lions Club believes has been promoting good vision, especially for children, through donated eyeglasses and free vision screenings practically since it came into being, according to local Lion Jeline Harclerode.

The club’s mission continues Thursday, when the local Lions Club performs a free vision screening from 9 a.m. - noon at the Emporia Public Library during story time.

Youth Services Manager Lori Heller said a lot of children attend story times on Thursdays. She wasn’t sure how many children might show up to the screening, but said Thursday story times were especially popular.

“We thought this would be a great extra service to offer for them,” she said. “It’s a real easy way to screen children 6 months and up. It takes a minute or less to do the screening.”

Lions Club members are not medical professionals, as Harclerode noted, so they can’t diagnose the children they screen, but they’ll note any problems or potential problems and refer children to eye doctors, if needed.

“Hopefully this will be a great opportunity for the families that come to the library,” Heller said.

Children with undiagnosed vision problems can struggle in school, especially with reading.

“We are all about early literacy,” Heller said.

She isn’t sure if the library will ask the Lions Club to perform future screenings. As of right now, this is the only story hour screening the library has planned. However, Heller said, if it goes well, there could one day be a repeat.

According to Harclerode, the club performs screenings elsewhere. Members have held screenings for kindergarteners at several local elementary schools.

“They say — from what we’ve read and we go through training to be able to (screen) — that 80 percent of all learning comes through the eyes,” she said. “Vision problems, then, in school can become a real issue if they’re not diagnosed and treated. So that’s our focus is to help them stand the best chance of performing in school.”

She said the club’s spot vision screener is a recent purchase and an expensive one — the machines cost about $7,000. The club used a grant from the Emporia Community Foundation and the Cleve Cook Foundation to purchase its machine, Harclerode said. It screens for six different vision problems.

“We’ve made more contacts and even gotten into private daycares in the community as well as contacting all the preschools,” she said.

The club’s goal is to have every child in Emporia screened before they’re 6 years old, Harclerode said, and do some outreach in other nearby communities.

“If it determines that they need to see an eye doctor and possibly have exercises or something else — we know that that’s most successful before the age of 6,” she said. “We can screen all ages, but our primary focus is before the age of 6.”

Daycares and similar services are welcome to contact the Lions Club if they’d like to arrange a free vision screening of their own, Harclerode said.

To set up a screening, call Harclerode at 343-3210 or email jharcler@gmail.com.

For more information on the upcoming screening at the library or for more information on EPL programs, call 340-6462.

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