Rigby Lions Club wraps up vision screenings

Rigby Lions Club members Dee Jessup, Pat Scott and Sue Kenny finish up the vision screening season April 24 at Swan Valley Elementary.

After half a year of vision screenings in schools throughout the East Idaho area, the Rigby Lions Club completed its last screening at the end of April. The club screened nearly 18,000 students in eight school districts, including a little less than 2,000 in the Jefferson and Ririe districts.

Though small, the Rigby chapter of Lion’s Club International completes more screenings every year than any other organization in Idaho, said Pat Scott, the vice president of the Rigby Lions Club. After longtime coordinator DeWayne Hodges died in early 2018, Scott took over the position. Scott said typically, the group would have finished the screenings months earlier, but with Hodges gone and nobody fully prepared to take over, the process began later than usual.

“It was a lot of work going through and putting it together,” Scott said.

Scott said the Rigby Lions Club started its screenings at Ririe Elementary Sept. 24, and went on to screen more than 1,500 students in the Ririe and Jefferson school districts.

However, the chapter screened fewer students overall than in years past, attributable partly to higher flu and sickness rates.

“Some of the schools that we went to might have had more than 10% (of students) absent,” Scott said.

Changes by Jefferson School District also affected the numbers, Scott said. The Rigby Lions Club generally screens students in grades K-5, but this school year did not screen second or fourth graders in most schools in Jefferson, at the direction of the district. The exception was Harwood Elementary School, which requested all grades to continue receiving the screenings, Scott said.

Jozlyn Thompson, director of student services for the Jefferson School District, said the decision not to screen all K-5 grades was made after reviewing different recommendations from a number of organizations and states.

“I feel like with the growth that we’ve had over the last several years, this will help to fine tune the screenings and get the results that we need still doing it at the grades we’re doing it in,” Thompson said.

Even with less students, the workload for the Lions Club chapter members has not been light, Scott said. With 52 schools covered by the Rigby Lions Club this year, the 10 or so chapter members and few volunteers who helped with the screenings had much to do.

“We’ve devoted more than 200 hours to vision screening (this year) … I’m not going to tell you it’s not tiring,” Scott said.

But, she said, it is also rewarding. Scott said “it’s wonderful” to see a student who the club screened the year before wearing glasses and having the ability to see clearly. She said she has even gone to the grocery store and had a child run up to her in excitement and recognition after having a screening.

Other times, Scott said, the chapter has managed to catch symptoms of concussions or brain tumors, and advise the children receive proper care.

“We know that we have made an impact on these lives,” Scott said. “And that’s what Lions do.”

The Rigby Lions Club screening team included Scott, Suzanne Haroldsen Kenny, Gale Ferguson, Ena Merrill, Dee Jessup, Katherine Hess. Lawrence Bogard, Jerry Mastel, Debbie Bennion and Paul Butikofer.

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