How I "Got Focused"
THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
How I "Got Focused"
My involvement with a vision plan's community outreach program inspired me to start one in my backyard.
BY CYNTHIA REYNOLDS - TEMPLE, O.D. CHICAGO
Not long ago, Vision Service Plan (VSP) invited me to participate in its "Get Focused" national community outreach program. The program seeks to educate American children and their parents on the importance of regular eye exams through fun exhibits, games, activities and prizes that revolve around sports, such as baseball. After participating in two "Get Focused" events at Wrigley Field with members of the Chicago Cubs, I decided to create a similar, yet smaller event in my community.
A home run for vision education
I developed a sports clinic for the Hyde Park Kenwood Legends Youth Baseball League based on VSP's series of visually challenging drills for ball players ages five to 18. The clinic ran in April and served more than 100 children. These children participated in activities that trained their eyes to see objects at different distances and taught them how to focus without moving their heads, among other skills. Watching these young ball players concentrate intensely during each skill test was thrilling. What was even more gratifying was hearing them say:
- "Whoa, I can see the ball better!"
- "OK … Now, watch me!"
- "Is it my turn yet?"
A team effort
If not for the people and organizations that donated their time and generosity, the sports clinic wouldn't have been possible. VSP donated sports equipment, Bausch & Lomb displayed its Nike Maxsight Sport-tinted contact lenses, and a local company and church donated snacks and water.
Dr. Reynolds-Temple's "Get Focused"-like event was held in the Nichols Gym in Hyde Park, Il.
In all, 17 people, including 15 Illinois College of Optometry students, worked the skill stations. I was greatly impressed by these future eyecare practitioners' enthusiasm for making a strong impact in a local community. I'm hoping this continues once they graduate and open their own practices.
The culmination of this exciting day: The announcement of winners of a raffle that included free eye exams and free eye wear from my dispensary designed for the ball players.
The long-term impact
While the sports clinic benefited the young athletes, it also benefited me as a practitioner, as I was able to show the Hyde Park community my genuine affinity for providing a totally personalized eyecare experience. This, in turn, has garnered me several new patients who either attended the event or who informed their friends and family about it.
Due to the success of the clinic, I plan on creating more community eyecare events in my neighborhood, including holding additional sports clinics in the greater Chicago area.
I've found that sports-vision clinics are an easy and exciting way to incorporate vision awareness and training because they allow me to have direct contact with the people in my community in a more relaxed, informal and fun way. This facilitates education. If you're interested in starting a sports vision clinic in your neighborhood, visit www.getfo cusedamerica.org. OM
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Optometric Management, Issue: August 2007