By Sen. Cam Ward
Last week I had the privilege of visiting three schools in Bibb County for free health screenings that were staffed by KidCheckPlus, affiliated of Sight Savers America. Headquartered in Pelham, this vital program is provided to schools free of charge, via donations and volunteer hours by nursing students from around the state.
I saw their operation in action first hand, serving children of all ages at Brent Elementary, Centreville Middle, and Bibb County High Schools. The KidCheck volunteers screened over 1,500 kids for overall health indicators like Height & Weight, BMI, Temperature, Blood Pressure, Vision, Dental, Hearing, Heart & Lung Sounds, Heart & Respiratory Rates, Skin & Musculoskeletal, and Examinations of the Eyes, Ears, Nose, & Throat.
The Bibb County Schools began these health screenings in 1996, and were the first school system in the state to make head-to-toe health screenings an annual part of their school year. KidCheck Plus began in 2008 as a way to expand school-based health screenings across Alabama using the model approach that had been highly successful in the Bibb and Blount County Schools for over a decade.
Programs like these are conceived because of need, funded through the kindness of regular folks and the community spirit of local companies, and staffed through ingenuity by students who need the experience. They fill a vital role in our community’s health. They have the added benefit of not burdening citizens with overhead, bureaucracy and taxes, while saving government funds for other uses. They are a model for the future, and will become more important as we continue to reexamine the types of services government provides, and shrink the overall goal of government in the lives of Alabamians.
The health and welfare of our young people is important to the state for so many reasons. Children are our future, and how we treat them says much about our society and our morals. I am proud to represent an area that founded a program like this, and proud of them for their continued work and expansion of their scope through the years.
It is always great to interact with our schools, see how the students and teachers are faring, and be a part of something that promotes healthy lifestyles and outcomes for the next generation of our great state!