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Coming into focus: Lions Club partners with district to improve student well-being

Lions Club vision screeningAnnual vision screenings in our schools are helping find students whose vision may be impacting their development, learning, and even classroom behaviors. Through our district’s partnership with the Snohomish Lions Club, each year about 5% of district students are identified as having vision issues needing follow-up care.

“The Snohomish Lions Club has truly championed student access and has been a valuable partner of the Snohomish School District for many years,” said Dr. Kent Kultgen, Snohomish School District Superintendent. “Organizations like the Lions Club are integral to the health and well-being of our schools and community.”

Each autumn, Lions Club members volunteer as vision screeners in our schools, where thousands of students are screened for vision issues. In addition to volunteer vision screeners, the Snohomish Lions have also funded the purchase of two Spot Vision Screeners for the district. These screeners have been essential to school nurses who use them to annually screen students, monitor on-going vision concerns presented by staff and families, and provide data for evaluations. Spot Vision Screeners take 58 measurements in 0.8 seconds. Instead of these screenings taking up most of the school day, district nurses and volunteer Lions Club screeners are able to complete the check within a few short hours. Through their partnership with the Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation of Snohomish County, the local Snohomish Lions Club also helps schedule free follow-up eye exams and provides critically needed eyeglasses for district students in need.

“Vision screening plays a critical role in the school setting, as it allows us to identify potential issues with visual acuity,” said Chrissy Hawkins, nurse at Machias Elementary. “Many students do not display any symptoms of vision issues, so the screening process allows for early detection and intervention, which helps reduce the educational and social-emotional impacts for our students.”

Student vision screenings are not the only way our local Lions group helps throughout our district.

“When you add the vision screenings to the scholarships, the top student recognition events and working with parent clubs and district to improve playgrounds, we have reached many in the community,” said Vicki Adams, Snohomish Lions Club member and retired Riverview Elementary teacher. “They say it takes a village, and the Lions Club is proud to be part of that Snohomish village.”

In addition to vision screenings, the club is very active in our district in other valuable ways. The club helps students in need by helping defray most of the costs for hearing exams and hearing aids; has purchased and helped install playground equipment at Central Emerson Elementary; recognizes district senior students at its annual Top Scholar Banquet; annually funds thousands in scholarships for high school seniors; supports the use of Story Maker/Wonder Media technology at Riverview Elementary; and works with the Snohomish Kiwanis to provide every district 3rd grader with a new dictionary. Throughout the greater Snohomish community, they operate a community garden, provide community grants, help fund projects at the Boys and Girls Club, Snohomish Senior Center, and Snohomish Community Food Bank, and provide scholarships for children with diabetes to attend Camp Leo.

“Last year was my first year delivering dictionaries to 3rd grade classrooms,” said Terry Lippincott, who has been an active member of the Lions Club for many years. “With today’s kids living in the digital world, you would not think that an actual old schoolbook like a dictionary would be something kids would cherish, but we’ve heard story after story about kids hanging onto their dictionaries … take them to college and holding on to them into adulthood.”

As a retired district middle school teacher, Lippincott added she’s impressed with lessons teachers have created to utilize the dictionaries. She noted she’s had conversations with teachers who told her that when classrooms become a bit high-spirited, they have students pull out their dictionaries. Teachers will use them to play word games or let students explore, as the dictionaries also include biographies of U.S. presidents, offer atlas and mapping resources, contain facts about other countries, and much more.

“It is so great to have kids say, ‘oh my sister or my brother got one of these’ and see their faces light up when they get to put their names in their very own books,” said Lippincott. “It’s a really great experience to see how something as simple as a dictionary really matters.”

Kristin Beverford, teacher at Riverview Elementary, is grateful for the contributions provided by the Snohomish Lions Club. Beverford’s students have utilized the computers and other audio/visual equipment purchased by the Lions Club in Riverview Elementary's student animation lab. In the animation lab, Riverview students were able to complete multiple animation videos which accented their learning in core subjects. They’ve created videos to accompany their argumentative writing - stating a claim, counter-claim, and supporting reasons. They’ve also created videos around their social studies curriculum.  

“Organizations like the Lions Club are such an important part of our community,” said Beverford. “They make unique experiences possible and help fund activities and materials that fall into the ‘gap’ where funding from the state stops. They give our students the opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have.” She added the group of nearly 40 members, many of whom are retired or are senior citizens, are routinely excited to interact with the younger generation.

“The Lions Club to me is all about service wherever it is needed and with such a large school district and so many varying programs, we’re happy to help where we can,” said Lippincott.