High school students who screen children’s vision are asking Iowa lawmakers to restore state funding to the program that taught them how to do it. Aya Almajidi is a student at Waukee High School who conducts vision tests at elementary schools once a week.

“We have like seen kids who can’t even see at all and they know that, but they’re afraid to tell their parents, so we love going out and helping kids and then the next time we see them, they have glasses,” she said  yesterday. “And they tell us: ‘Oh, thank you so much for screening us.'”

The Iowa Department of Public Health cut nearly $100,000 of annual state funding for Prevent Blindness Iowa last year. Almajidi and other students presented petitions to legislators yesterday, asking for that funding to be restored.

“Keep the funding because it actually helps a lot of students,” she said. “…When students can’t see, it’s like a higher risk of failing high school.”

The director of Prevent Blindness Iowa says because state support ended, they can’t travel around Iowa to train more people in vision screening. The group estimates a quarter of school-aged Iowa kids have vision problems.

(Reporting by Iowa Public Radio’s Katarina Sostaric)