Featured Grant Stories

Grant Helps La Crosse Lions Expand Vision Screening Program

September 14, 2023

By La Crosse Community Foundation

Vision screenings key to academic success

A young La Crosse student undergoes a vision screening with La Crosse Lions Charities volunteers.

A young La Crosse student undergoes a vision screening with La Crosse Lions Charities volunteers.

The American Optometric Association estimates that as many as one in four children have a vision problem that affects learning. These vision problems often go undetected, especially as children may naturally assume that how things look to them is the same way they look to others. But vision problems can lead to other problems, including learning challenges, inattention at school (which can result in behavioral issues), and poor school performance. They can also lead to stunted social development and diffidence, even into adulthood.

But with a grant from the La Crosse Community Foundation, La Crosse Lions Charities aims to avoid that outcome for more local children. The $7,500 grant enables the Lions to take its KidSight vision screenings to more schools and daycare centers in the region.

Vision screening identifies concerns early

“The ability to see correctly is pivotal to a child’s learning process,” said La Crosse district nurse Sara Lieurance. “Unfortunately, many children and families remain unaware of existing vision issues, especially in younger children. With the Lions KidSight Program, we hope to identify and address these concerns before they impact a child’s education.”

In Wisconsin, annual vision screening for students is mandatory, but some traditional methods have had challenges, including efficiency concerns and interruptions to classroom time. The Lions KidSight program addresses these issues, offering screenings that don’t interrupt class schedules, are accurate, and eliminate the need for recruiting volunteer parents.

“This grant will enable us to provide these crucial screenings to more children and catch vision problems early,” said Local Lion Art Marson, who volunteers for and performs the screenings. “Our data has shown that 8-10% of children under 12 have vision concerns. We can now share the program’s benefits with more children in our community.”

The KidSight program, coordinated by La Crosse Lions Charities for Lions Clubs in various locations, offers screenings in preschools, daycare centers, elementary schools, and, occasionally, the general public. Based on the results, children with potential vision issues are referred to vision specialists for accurate assessments and treatments. Additionally, the Lions assist with procuring eyewear or other necessary services such as vision therapy.

Last year alone, over 1,000 La Crosse public school students underwent screenings, with almost 10% identified for further vision assessment.

Addressing vision issues paves path to success in school and beyond

“Every time we identify and address a child’s vision issue, we’re not just correcting their sight — we’re paving the way for their academic success, boosting their confidence, and ensuring they fully engage with the world around them. It’s not merely about seeing clearly; it’s about giving our students the best possible start in life,” said Jamie Schloegel, CEO of the La Crosse Community Foundation.

To learn more about La Crosse Lions Charities, visit their Facebook page, and to see local news coverage of the grant, visit WXOW and WKBT.