Students at Eastside Elementary got a check-up last week. Sight Savers America’s KidCheck Plus program, an award-winning children’s free health screening program in Alabama, conducted free head to toe health screenings for more than 140 kindergarteners through fifth graders at Eastside on Wednesday.
KidCheck partnered with Southern Union State Community College’s nursing students to administer the health screening, which included examinations of height and weight with BMI, vital signs, chest and abdomen, ears, eyes, nose, throat, skin, musculoskeletal system, vision, hearing and dental. Thanks to a grant from the Verizon Foundation, the program uses wireless technology, and at the end of the screening, a Parent Report Form is generated for each child. The report shows each test performed and any problems discovered. They are sent home to parents and kept on file at the school.
The KidCheck program was created in 2008 by then Governor Bob Riley’s Alabama Rural Action Commission. In 2011, KidCheck was moved from the state government to Sight Savers America, an Alabama-based nonprofit, with the full support of Governor Robert Bentley’s Administration including the Governor’s Alabama Rural Development Office and the Alabama Department of Education. KidCheck helps to build partnerships between interested school systems and college nursing schools. College nursing students administer KidCheck, under faculty supervision, and receive practical experience and valuable clinical hours.
KidCheck Plus COO Chad Nichols said that over 100 screening events in Alabama take place each year and he hopes that number will continue to grow. He said that on average approximately 30,000 children receive free screenings each year.
District 13 Senator Gerald Dial was part of Gov. Riley’s Rural Action Committee that helped start the KidCheck program, and he was on hand at Eastside Wednesday to visit with students and see KidCheck in action.
“It’s a great program that requires no state funding,” Dial said. “These students get free check-up and these nursing students get hands on experience. I know firsthand the impact the program is making by providing comprehensive health screenings to school children in rural Alabama who may otherwise go undetected.”
“It exposes these kids early to the medical environment,” Nichols says, “and it shows them the importance of being healthy.”
Nichols emphasized that one of the best parts about KidCheck is that if a problem is found, the issues are addressed. “We’re not going to let someone fall through the cracks,” he says. For example, Sight Savers works directly with each local KidCheck event coordinator and any child failing a KidCheck vision screening can be referred to Sight Savers for personal case management of their eye care needs. Sight Savers America provides free comprehensive follow-up eye care services for eligible children. Parents are also sent educational tools to promote better health, including dietary recommendations. School nurses handle other necessary referrals for any identified health problem.
Eastside Principal Sheree Core said that this is the third year that Eastside has participated in the KidCheck screening program.