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Some students not seeing, hearing properly, Kiwanis health screenings show

STUDENTS FROM the Liguanea Preparatory School were on Thursday treated to a Kiwanis Club of New Kingston-sponsored on-site health fair, where hearing exams and visual screenings were conducted free of cost.

The hearing exams and visual screenings serve as a first step in ensuring children who require intervention, to prevent a negative impact on their ability to learn, do so as quickly as possible.

At Thursday’s health fair, the Lions Club of Mona volunteered its services in the form of eye screenings for the students at the preparatory school while the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) conducted the hearing exams. Audrey Brown, who serves as president and project leader for the Young Children Priority One Committee, said the programme was of great importance to her and the organisation.

“This is a process that, as a charity organisation, we do. Kids need Kiwanis and, of course, hearing and vision are very critical aspects of learning,” Brown told The Gleaner. “During the year, we put in our various projects and one such project is having health screenings [vision and hearing] for children in prep and basic schools.”

Evadney Crooks, who was one of the volunteers from the Lions Club of Mona, could be seen conducting eye tests along with the other volunteers. Crooks encouraged early screening of children by their parents and highlighted its benefits.

“What I have found is that, when you screen the children when they are young and the parents know that they have problems, they tend to get it dealt with much sooner,” Crooks said.

She also encouraged both children and adults to take the necessary steps to care for their eyes. Among these steps are eating yellow vegetables such as pumpkins and carrots and avoiding rubbing your eyes with your fingers.

Marvesha Goodgame-Chin, a certified occupational hearing conservationist from the JAD, conducted hearing exams for the children. She conducts various hearing assessments which are mainly to examine the hearing levels of an individual.

“If, for example, someone is having an issue with their ear, they can come to us to find out if hearing loss is present,” she said, “Based on their symptoms, we can identify possible causes and necessary treatment ... for issues,” Goodgame-Chin said.

She advocated for early ear screening as early detection of any hearing issues would be very beneficial to the child. She also gave tips on how to care for the ears, including avoiding putting foreign objects in them and staying away from loud environments.

Currently, only the Liguanea Preparatory School and Destowe Bennett Basic School have benefitted from these health fairs. The Kiwanis Club has ambitions to move the health fair to many other schools, but have stated that they need funding.

Beverley Thompson, chairman of the club’s Service Leadership Programme, said its members want to cover both Kingston and St Andrew.

“In the classes sometimes, they say that the children are not doing well. When we do these kinds of screenings, we find out that students are not seeing properly and they are not hearing properly,” she said “What we try to do is further check if we get the name of the kids. We will do another fundraiser to help the parents because some of them cannot afford to go to consultations.”

The Kiwanis Club of New Kingston has kept itself busy with other projects they have coming up later in the year. These include a golf tournament, a woman’s centre project, the installation of Internet services for a number of basic schools and the building of a playground at the Kintyre Basic School which will be sponsored by a Skip A Meal fundraiser that was held earlier this year.

- Leon Thomas