Here’s a unique community outreach opportunity that you can easily incorporate into your practice!
There are thousands of participants in scouting programs across our state, with involvement starting at the kindergarten level. Many children remain involved up to and through high school.
As doctors of optometry, you know more than anyone that clear and comfortable vision is imperative to help ensure a child’s ability to learn, which can only be assessed through a comprehensive eye exam.
A new vision awareness patch program, created by the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians supporting girl scout, paraoptometric and pre-optometry student Marietta Richman can help you reach the thousands of children in scouting, and reinforce the importance of eye exams to not just the children, but parents, caregivers, and scout leaders.
This outreach is also an opportunity to introduce careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), most importantly the profession of optometry.
Our state association is making materials and suggested activities available to you and your staff to reach out to scouts, and their parent leaders and other volunteers, to introduce the program.
One of the first activities for earning the patch is visiting a local doctor of optometry’s office. You can connect with local scout troops by discussing this program with your patients who have children active in scouts or by visiting each organization’s regional/metropolitan council which covers your area. From there, you can work together to identify the closest troops to your office.
Activities for your troop:
Scouts interested in earning the Vision Awareness Patch must complete two activities below:
- Not everyone has 20/20 vision. Learn about nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism and how glasses or contacts can help.
- Children often experience vision problems that are not easily detected. Learn how vision can affect school activities and how a doctor of optometry can help.
- The American Optometric Association’s National Save Your Vision Month is March. Make a poster for your school that promotes eye health and good vision practices.
- Learn about a career in optometry. What optometry schools are located in or near your state? How do you become licensed? What’s an average salary?
- Run an Eyeglass Donation Drive. Contact a local service organization that collects them. A suggestion is to visit https://www.lionsclubs.org/en/resources-for-members/resource-center/recycle-eyeglasses
- Do “activities in the dark.” Divide the Scouts into pairs, having one scout put a blindfold on and the other be non-blindfolded. The blindfolded scout should try some basic activities such as buttoning or zipping a coat, tying shoes, writing, etc. The non-blindfolded scout should lead, explain what is seen and be a guide for safety purposes. Then trade roles. Discuss: How did it feel to not be able to see? How did you accomplish simple activities? What would you do if you met a blind person?
The American Optometric Association has activity sheets for younger children, as well as schematic section of the eye sheets, on its website under “ Resources for Teachers.” Other activities often of interest are optical illusions, making pinhole cameras, drawing and labeling parts of the eye, or demonstrating/observing how the pupil of the eye reacts in light and dark.
How to request patches:
Please fill out the form below if you are requesting patches for an upcoming troop visit. Patches are free for IOA members.