Friday, June 17, 2016

Comedy night to support vision care assistance - By Michelle Libby

In a joint effort the Windham Lions Club and the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce sponsor a family-friendly comedy night featuring three outstanding comedians to raise money for eye care assistance for students in RSU14. The comedians will be Letterman alumni Rob Steen, Jody Sloan, who has performed over 4,000 shows and Tom Hayes, who has a unique story that he incorporates in his act.

For the last year the Windham Lions Club has been raising money to purchase a new vision screening camera. Recently RSU14 purchased the camera to be used in this year’s kindergarten screening. With that huge expense out of the way, the Lions have turned their attention to raising funds to help students that need vision care and glasses and can’t afford it.

The Lions Club helps with the mandatory Department of Education for the State of Maine screening of children in kindergarten, first, third, fifth, seventh and ninth grades, said Windham Primary School nurse Debra Churchill.

“We’ve been screening kindergartners for 29 years,” said Lions club member Pat Tanguay. “With the new camera, the digital is done in eight seconds to tell us if a child needs to be referred to an eye doctor,” she added. The new camera can recognize visual disorders including near and far sighted and refraction of the eyes, she said. 

The Lions would like to begin screening daycare centers and expand the program. 

“Early detection is the best way to go,” Tanguay said. 

When teachers notice a deficit in the classroom, vision screening is usually one of the first things that is checked. “It impacts learning and following directions,” said Churchill. “The money helps people get access to glasses in order to see the world clearly.” The money for families who don’t have eye care insurance or that the insurance doesn’t cover something they need. 

The Windham Primary School does close to 600 screening each year. They have done 160 screenings this spring for incoming kindergarteners. Thirteen of those students had referrals and five have reported back that they will need glasses in the fall. Of the referrals with the screening, 75 percent will wear glasses. 

“Screenings like this help us identify these kids before they even know there’s a problem. We prevent them from falling behind,” Churchill said. “The Lions have been helpful for all of our families.”
Vision care can be expensive and the Lions are looking to helping students get the care they need without the barrier of expense. 

The concert to support this program is Friday, June 24th at Windham High School Performing Arts Center, 406 Gray Road, at 7:30 p.m.

There will be a 50/50 raffle and refreshments for the hour and a half show. Coordinator and Lions Club member Ed Fortier is hoping that they will have two or three hundred in attendance. 

Tickets are $15 in person or online. FMI, call 892-7530 or order tickets online at

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