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Lions Club raising money for low vision students
Erin Haskins
Erin Haskins - photo by Luke Martin/staff

Lions project

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    Erin Haskins was always a visual learner.
    She liked to be able to see things in front of her and learned best when she could visualize the concepts being taught.
    But after having surgery to remove a brain tumor last December, the 15-year-old lost vision in her right eye and has no peripheral vision or depth perception.
    "I was really, really scared," she said when she first discovered her vision loss.
    Now she needs handouts in 26-point font and uses a cane to help guide her as she walks.
    And while Haskins has continued with her education, she's had to do it though Hospital Homebound Services. However, she'd like to be able to attend high school like other 15-year-olds.
    In order to do that, she would need equipment that would enable her to read words from a textbook or notes the teacher may write on the board.
    That's where the Statesboro Noon Lions Club comes in as they are hoping to raise money to purchase equipment that would help students with vision troubles.
    The club is seeking to collect $50,000 to buy equipment that would enable those with low vision to read text more clearly by magnifying the images on a screen, allowing students to read it.    
    "It's really about giving them independence," said Gloria Jennings, who teaches visually impaired students in Bulloch County.
    Low vision is not correctable by eyeglasses and affects approximately one out of every 20 Americans. Of those, about 94,000 are students, including around 20 in the Bulloch County School System.
    Krystal Bragg, president of the Statesboro Noon Lions Club, said they're working with students who have some vision, but are unable to read standard-sized print or what the teacher writes on the blackboard.
    "Basically we're trying to maximize the vision the students have left," said Bragg.
    The equipment they want to purchase is like a computer screen that can be used to magnify text from books or what the teacher writes on the board. A camera is attached and can be directed at whatever needs to be enlarged.
    Bragg said that while the fundraiser isn't officially a Board of Education project, she said they've committed to matching any funds raised by the Lions Club.
    In addition to trying to place units in classrooms, the Lions Club is hoping to place at least one at the Statesboro Regional Library for public use.
    Bragg said the club plans several fundraisers to generate the funds needed, starting with a chicken dinner on December 8. Tickets are available for $6.50 from any club member as well as at B&J Awards.
    Also, if a business orders enough, a Lions Club member will deliver the meals to them.
    Also, Bragg said they intend to apply for a grant from the Lions Club International Foundation for 50 percent of the total.
    If successful, the club hopes to use this endeavor as a pilot project to expand low vision services into under-served areas.
    For more information, contact Bragg at (912) 531-9572.
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