Allie Stryker 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Family Health Forums Begun Lions are champions of vulnerable populations, providing them with many needed services. Lions span the globe in their service, from children living on the streets of Brazil to athletes at Special Olympics games in South Africa. For the past 12 years, Lions and Special Olympics have been working together to ensure health and quality of life for Special Olympics athletes through the Opening Eyes partnership, which provides free vision screenings. The need for vision screenings for these athletes is great. Research has shown that among Special Olympic athletes, 68 percent have not had an eye examination in three years, 37 percent are in need of eyeglasses and 18 percent wear clinically incorrect eyeglasses. Recently, Aphiwe Qonya was one of the 250,000 athletes who can thank Lions and LCIF for a future with better vision. Aphiwe, a farsighted Special Olympics athlete and student in South Africa, was unable to read in class due to his vision impairment. His teachers were not even fully aware of his vision problem. Thanks to Opening Eyes, Aphiwe had his vision screened and tried on glasses for the first time. His classmates all clapped when he put on his new glasses, and he was finally able to read all the words and numbers in his school books rather than guessing at what was written. Aphiwe now has the opportunity to learn more in school. Aphiwe was screened as part of a Family Health Forum, an expansion of the partnership between LCIF and Special Olympics. Over the last few months, the Family Health Forums have been piloted in Aphiwe’s home country of South Africa, as well as in Namibia, Nigeria and Tanzania. Lions helped coordinate the forums, where over 250 families learned about Lions Clubs, Special Olympics and the Opening Eyes program. The forums were also a venue to help families and caregivers learn ways to overcome the challenges that athletes and their families face, while exploring ways to help facilitate better access to health care, education, social services and inclusion in their communities. This initiative helps Special Olympics carry out a global goal of building communities through the participation of families and caregivers. Families also received information tailored to specific community needs. In South Africa, the forum educated families about malaria, safe drinking water and the importance of physical activity in the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Malaria education, as well as information on the importance of keeping a clean environment around schools and social centers, was shared in Tanzania. The community-tailored information in the Family Health Forums came with a much-needed benefit–vision screenings for the athletes. Untreated vision problems can add to the challenges of the athletes, whose vision needs can often be overlooked. The Opening Eyes program, through the support of optic industry leaders, Essilor International and Safilo, SpA, makes it possible for athletes to receive free vision screenings and eyewear, if needed. Opening Eyes events and screenings rely on thousands of volunteers, particularly Lions. LCIF has provided $13 million in support of this partnership program, and more than 15,000 volunteer Lions along with more than 10,000 trained doctors have participated in vision screening events worldwide. With the recent expansion of Lions’ partnership with Special Olympics through Family Health Forums, athletes like Aphiwe and their families can now benefit in more ways, receiving vision screenings, eyewear and health education.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Foundation+Impact/1009969/105015/article.html.