Children in the Surface Creek Valley and throughout Delta County may look forward to a brighter future thanks to local Lions clubs and a legacy inherited from Helen Keller.
Members of the Surface Creek Valley Lions Club explain that it was an appeal by Helen Keller in 1925 that led to the international service organization adopting sight and vision health as its signature service project.
According to the Lions International website, "As an adult [Helen Keller] became a tireless advocate for people with disabilities. And in 1925, she attended the Lions Clubs International convention and challenged Lions to become 'knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.' "
On Thursday last week, members of the local Lions club continued the service tradition begun in 1925 with Helen Keller's call to action by conducting KidSight vision screenings for students of Cedaredge's Little Sprouts Preschool.
The screenings have been a part of the club's service to the local community for at least 20 years, members said.
Youngsters from both the morning and afternoon sessions of the preschool were administered a brief, no-touch examination by use of a high-tech computerized device that evaluates risk factors for up to six different vision problems. Enrollment in Little Sprouts was not a requirement for participation in the program. The screenings were also made available to any community members who saw notifications of the eye exams and wanted to participate as "walk-ins."
The screenings were conducted upstairs at the Cedaredge Community United Methodist Church with additional support provided by the Delta Family Center.
Surface Creek Valley Lions Club members Pat Means, Judy Welch, and Bob and Patti Michael participated, along with Delta Lions Club member Don Chapman. Chapman is caretaker of the expensive screening camera which is owned by the Colorado Lions Foundation and used throughout the county.
Means and Chapman explained that the vision screenings done at an early age, before youth come under the vision testing programs of the school district, are very important. They can catch indications of certain developing eye ailments early on before they become serious treatment problems at school age. Means and Chapman said at least one serious vision problem was detected here that would have led to blindness had it not been detected early through the KidSight program and successfully treated.
The screenings give an individualized computer printout indicating possible issues with high myopia, high far sightedness and other ailments.
The reports are given to the children's parents who may then consult with the optometrist of their choice for analysis and possible treatment.
The screenings have been conducted on children as young as six months old, Chapman said.