A couple of years ago, Milledgeville Lions Club President Ed Powelski was involved in the vision screening of a local child that he knew personally.
He didn’t contact the family because of privacy policies, but the family knew of his involvement with the organization and later came to him.
“It ended up being a condition where if they did not catch it at that time, it would have just generated into something more serious,” Powelski said.
It’s stories like this one that are the motivation behind The Lions Club’s initiative to work with daycares and schools throughout the community to provide vision screenings for students.
The Lion’s Club has long been known for its work in providing glasses to those who need them, but their work in schools began about four years ago when they were able to obtain two vision screening machines from Atlanta. Members take an online course that teaches them the proper methods to operate the machines.
“Once the technology was available to us and it was affordable enough that we could do it in house, that’s when we started doing it,” Powelski said. “That’s when we realized the training was offered to us. We took the training class and then we started doing it.”
Powelski said many times, it only becomes evident once children have trouble seeing the board or passing tests in school that they have a vision issue. The hope is that these screenings will help parents and school leaders to identify the problem early on.
The Lion’s Club chairperson for the screenings reaches out to daycares and schools to let the leadership know that the screenings are available for children ages 6 months to 6 years old. If the daycares or schools are interested, permission slips must be signed by parents and then The Lion’s Club helps to set up a schedule based on how many students will participate.
“The screening itself does not take 40 seconds providing we can get a good contact with their pupils and everything else,” Powelski explained. “The paperwork is done, and then they leave.”
Optimally, about 150 students can be screened in just a few hours.
“When the child sits down, we talk with them and make them comfortable,” Powelski said.
The students then look into the screening machine. If they pass, they are checked once more, and the screen advises with either “pass” or “refer.”
“If it says refer, we’ll do it again to make sure there’s no variations in the way the child was sitting,” he said.
Then, the followup is with the school. Powelski said the only information The Lion’s Club keeps is the age of the student and the name of the school. If the child is referred, there is a number that is placed under the referral on the child’s permission slip. The school will then reach out to parents to notify them that there’s a possibility the child may have a vision issue that they may want to look into with their doctor.
The Lion’s Club has recently held vision screenings at several local schools including Midway Hills Academy and Midway Hills Primary, St. Stephens Day School and Lakeview Primary, and Powelski said they are willing to work with any school or daycare that is interested.
In addition to providing the school screenings, the Lion’s Club has been involved for years in providing assistance with getting glasses for people of any age who may need them.
People who are in need must fill out an application for assistance that is reviewed by the club and then taken to a local ophthalmologist. Powelski said The Lion’s Club is always in need of glasses donations.
“If you have old glasses, we don’t need the cases but just the glasses.”
Folks can look for donation boxes at local ophthalmologist offices. The glasses are sent to The Lighthouse in Atlanta, where lenses and frames are refurbished.
In addition to vision causes, the Lion’s Club also performs highway cleanups once a month and works with other initiatives including diabetes awareness and work to support childhood cancer awareness.
Anyone interested in becoming involved with The Lion’s Club can reach out to Powelski at 478-456-1518 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.