Prevent Blindness Wisconsin ensures children have healthy vision to learn while providing essential vision health education to future healthcare providers through our student Vision Screener Training and Certification Program – High School and University Partnerships. We work with nursing and pre-health programs, pre-health clubs and associations, and service organizations at universities and school districts throughout the state.
In school districts, local high school students are trained and certified to provide vision screenings. Following their certification, the students are able to volunteer within their district and assist their school nurse in providing vision screenings to elementary school children. This creates a mutually beneficial system: elementary students receive an evidence-based vision screening, the school nurse receives support and assistance screening, and the high school student receives hands-on experience in community-based health care. Principal Sherri Hopkins said, “This is a school community at its best where you have students and local organizations working together to help our youngest learners. That day, it’s not about school boundaries or grade levels or status; it’s about students supporting each other and it doesn’t get any better than that.”
For university students, Prevent Blindness Wisconsin is able to engage students at an even deeper level. Through the University Program, future healthcare professionals are able to receive vision screening certification for both children and adults. They can perform screenings independent of a dedicated professional thus gaining first-hand experience through vision screening children at schools and high-risk adults at community settings such as shelters. Students also have the unique opportunity to gain exposure to the Medicaid system while providing follow-up vision care consultations for clients scheduling appointments. Also through this program, Prevent Blindness Wisconsin offers Public Health Education presentations to further raise awareness of the importance of healthy vision at every stage of life. Jodi Koplitz, MSN, RN Instructional Academic Staff, UW Oshkosh College of Nursing, reflects upon the effectiveness of the program, “We truly appreciate PBW and all the hard work you put in to educating our students! They are receiving such valuable information.”
To accommodate virtual and distance learning, Prevent Blindness Wisconsin now offers the Vision Screener Certification courses in a virtual web-based format. The live webinars still have an interactive component and allow for students to ask questions, practice their new skills, and complete a post-training test to ensure comprehension. Adapting to the challenges faced by COVID-19 was very important, as PBW did not want to miss an opportunity to provide vision health education to our future healthcare providers. We truly value the opportunity to engage students on the importance of healthy vision.
Alverno College Social Work Students
Prevent Blindness Wisconsin has had a blossoming relationship with Alverno College over the past two years. Three full-time student interns from the social work program have aided PBW in its efforts to expand programming across the lifespan. Students have been trained and certified as Children and Adult Vision Screeners and have helped over 50 Wisconsin residents to further vision care. These students are also responsible for spearheading many social media and public education campaigns. Two former student interns have been hired on at PBW to help assist with program and development projects to move our mission and vision forward. Natalie Page, BSW, was hired by PBW as a full-time staff member in October 2020 and is responsible for managing our individual giving and donation allocations. Laura Nardini, BSW, was hired by PBW as a parti-time staff member in June 2020 to conduct research and outreach to contribute to PBW’s statewide Community Health Assessments. We are very grateful for these hardworking women and all they offer PBW and the individuals in our community.
Laura Nardini, BSW
Brianna Stigen, BSW
Natalie Page, BSW
UW-Parkside Health Communications Capstone Project
During the Fall 2020 semester, Prevent Blindness Wisconsin was lucky enough to partner with three Health Communication Capstone students at UW-Parkside. The three students completed research on the impact of screen time and vision health and shared their findings by creating educational materials. PBW staff enjoyed working with the three students, Samantha Porter, Kaila McLaurin, Mohamed Mohamud, and Professor Theresa Castor. This collaboration occurred thanks to funding from the Racine Community Foundation.
Below is the project Samantha Porter created. Her objective was to create a brochure for parents about how screens impact vision health and give some practical guidelines on managing screen time.
Join us for Ellie’s Dayon Friday, February 5th, as we celebrate children’s healthy vision in honor of our former Preschool Vision Screening Ambassador, Ellie McGinty. Ellie McGinty was Prevent Blindness Wisconsin’s Preschool Vision Screening Ambassador during the 2019-2020 school year. Ellie’s journey to healthy vision began at her preschool vision screening at Menomonee Falls Preschool Co-op. During Ellie’s screening, dedicated volunteers with the Community League of Menomonee Falls found that she struggled to see the LEA symbols out of her left eye. Following her vision screening, Ellie’s parents took her to an eye care professional where she was diagnosed with hyperopia and amblyopia in her left eye.
Today, following successful treatment, Ellie’s vision has been restored to 20/20 with glasses. Last summer, due to COVID-19, PBW was unable to host Ellie’s Walk, our family-friendly summer event. This year, on Ellie’s February 5th birthday, we want to make sure she receives all the recognition she deserves for supporting our mission and setting an example for children and families throughout Wisconsin during her year as our Preschool Vision Screening Ambassador. Ellie is currently a 1st grade student at MacArthur Elementary School, part of the Germantown School District.
We are asking all our partners to show your support for Ellie and PBW by wearing teal, Ellie’s favorite color, on Friday, February 5th, and post a picture of yourself to a social media platform: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter. Tag Prevent Blindness Wisconsin and make sure to include #Ellie’sDay! Your name will be put into a raffle to win a gift card!
Biz Times Giving Guide
Prevent Blindness Wisconsin is honored to have participated in the Biz Times Giving Guide. We are thrilled to share our work alongside many of our local partners. The Giving Guide is a wonderful way to share our sight-saving work with potential donors, community members, and peers in the non-profit space.
Are you aware of the Sneak Thief of Sight? Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. While it is estimated over 3 million American adults have glaucoma, half do not know the disease is present in their visual system. Glaucoma is a chronic eye disease that affects pressure levels in the eyes over time. This gradual increase in eye pressure affects the optic nerve, the main communication system between the eyes and the brain.
Typically, glaucoma results in gradual side (peripheral) and central vision loss, leaving many people living with the disease unaware of its presence. This gradual symptom formation earns glaucoma its name, the ‘Sneak Thief of Sight.’
Those most at-risk for glaucoma include:
• African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, and Southeast Asians 40 years and older
• Those with a family history of the disease
• Those who smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke on a regular basis
• Those with diabetes or pre-diabetes and/or high blood pressure
• Past injuries to the eye or head
Are you looking for more resources on glaucoma? Looking to connect with others going through a journey similar to yours or your loved ones? Check out Prevent Blindness’ Glaucoma Community—an online outlet designed to support people with glaucoma and individuals taking care of someone with the disease through advocacy, awareness, and education. To learn more, please check out the Glaucoma Community here!
Our Mission: Founded in 1958, Prevent Blindness Wisconsin improves the lives of children, adultsand families through early detection of eye conditions to prevent blindness and preserve sight. On-going vision screening activities and state-wide public health education lead to a lifetime of healthy vision.
Our Vision: Our vision is for each Wisconsin resident to have healthy vision at every stage of life.