CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Lions and the Clearfield County Fair Queen’s ‘Queens for Kids’ program donate an iPad to a special needs five-year-old.
Leah Williams was diagnosed early in life with cortical visual impairment caused by West Syndrome. With CVI Leah’s eyes are fine. Her visual impairment comes from her brain having problems processing the signals from her eyes. She is also non-verbal, unable to speak.
Krista Williams, Leah’s mother, after making contact with the Clearfield Lion’s, wrote a letter requesting help obtaining an iPad for her daughter as a tool for communication, visual development and cognitive development. According to the letter Krista wrote to the Lions, traditional communication devices are more costly, $3000 to $20000, and are designed for people with better sight than Leah.
The iPad, being a new technology, was not covered by the family’s insurance. The family of five was unable to purchase the tablet device and the application on their own. Krista also asked for help getting the application “Proloquo2go”.
“The first question you may have is what good is an iPad to a blind girl?” said Robert Swales, current 1st Vice President of the Clearfield Lions Club and Chairman of the Clearfield County Fair.
Not knowing the answer to that question himself at first, Swales went and talked to Leah’s teacher at the school to see what being done currently. Swales also contacted Apple to see how an iPad could be used with people with special needs.
“I came back to the Lions and said this is a very good program,” said Swales.
Lions Clubs International have taken on the challenge issued to them by Helen Keller in 1925 to become “knights of the blind.” The Queens for Kids program raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network that had already assisted Leah in the past.
“In the last eight years people of Clearfield helped the Queen’s program raise $800 thousand,” said Vanessa Houser, representative of the Children’s Miracle Network out of Altoona.
“The gift we are going to give Leah today isn’t technically funded by the CMN, but is an example of the Queen’s money staying in the area,” said Houser.
An iPad loaned to Leah from her current school demonstrated using two applications over a projector. The first application was a cause and effect teaching application using “wheels on the bus”. The second demonstrated how Leah could use the tablet pc as a communication device. Leah would select different images that would lead to the iPad talking for her.