4-H sight is set on safety

By Sally McClaskey

With 4-H shooting sports being one of the most popular projects in Ohio 4-H youth development, teaching youth safe practices is a priority. And thanks to a generous donation from the Ohio Ophthalmological Society (OOS), 4-H members will be viewing their targets through a new lens.

All 4-H members taking shooting sports projects are required to wear safety glasses, but the cost can be prohibitive for glasses that meet safety specifications, according to Jeff Dick, with Ohio State University Extension’s Ohio 4-H program. That’s when Superspecs stepped in to help.

Superspecs is administered by the OOS and funded through a grant by the Ohio Department of Health’s Save Our Sight (SOS) program. SOS was established by the state of Ohio to ensure that Ohio’s children have good vision and healthy eyes. The program is funded by donations from Ohioans who choose to give an extra dollar when applying or renewing their license plates.

“Our program is geared toward kids and protecting their vision,” said Laura Rosenberg, program director. “When we found out about 4-H and what a great program it is, we wanted to help.”

According to Rosenberg, more than half of all eye injuries in the United States involve children and are completely preventable.

Beginning last fall, safety glasses began shipping to county 4-H offices throughout Ohio. Jenna Hoyt, Extension educator for 4-H in Ashtabula County, was one of the first recipients. “This was a great benefit to our 4-H families with youth who wanted to participate in shooting sports and saw cost as a deterrent. It makes all the difference.”

This year, deliveries to county 4-H programs will continue so that every 4-H youth in shooting sports receives a pair of glasses.

Superspecs was so impressed with the program that they are expanding the resources offered to clubs. “We learned that 4-H clubs have members who serve as health and safety officers. They speak at their club meetings and share ideas,” said Rosenberg. “We’re creating eye safety kits with a video, speaking notes, and resources that members can share at meetings.” And this year, all youth will receive a bookmark, just the right size for a 4-H project book, that details how to prevent eye injuries.

Five 4-H camps also received glasses that youth will use this summer. “It is a wonderful gift, said Dick. “We are grateful to Superspecs for helping us keep our 4-H youth safe.