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News and Information
October 10, 2019
Most learning during childhood is visual, and healthy vision is critical to success in the classroom. Yet, one in 20 preschoolers – and one in four school-age children – is affected by vision problems, according to Prevent Blindness America. Despite that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that fewer than 15 percent of preschool children will visit an eye care professional before starting school. That’s why Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and community partner Conexus are working together to eliminate poor vision as a barrier to children’s learning and success. On September 27, Conexus provided free eye screenings to preschoolers and second graders at Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School in Alexandria. This pilot partnership with Conexus was made possible because of Mount Vernon Woods’ status as one of two Community Schools benefiting from community partnerships in Fairfax County. The Department of Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) played a key role in establishing and provides ongoing funding for community schools through Opportunity Neighborhoods, a county-wide initiative between communities, schools and local government. For the eye screenings at Mount Vernon Woods, Conexus employed VisioCheck, a safe and easy way to identify vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. The non-invasive technology simply requires children to look at a handheld device for about five to 10 seconds while the device takes photos and measurements of their eyes. Screening results are provided to the school and parents, with instructions to follow up with an eye doctor if necessary. NCS Prevention Manager Jesse Ellis, who witnessed the screenings, praises the ease of the technology and the importance of early intervention services, stating, “Early on, if we’re able to identify where kids need help, it really can make a big difference.” United Community is the lead community partner at Mount Vernon Woods and employs a full-time Community School Coordinator to assist school staff in building out and coordinating these efforts with community partners. “Community schools in Fairfax are one strategy we use to support families through our Opportunity Neighborhoods efforts,” Mr. Ellis says. “The presence of the site coordinator at the school significantly enhances follow-up care for the students. There’s a real difference as a result of having that designated point person.”
October 7, 2019
Can you run 1,600 meters in under seven minutes? Springfield resident Joanne Shabelski can – and she’s got a gold medal to prove it. At 58 years young, Shabelski placed first in her age group at the 2019 Northern Virginia Senior Olympics (NVSO), and even achieved a new women’s record for the 1,600-meter run event. Her time of 6:59 is the fastest in her age group since NVSO began tracking records in 2011. Since 1982, the NVSO has provided senior adults 50 years and older in Fairfax County and beyond with an opportunity for competition, self-improvement and fellowship through recreational physical activities, competitive athletics and non-physical games. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded by age group and gender in events ranging from track and swimming to Scrabble and jigsaw puzzles. The popular event attracts more than 900 individuals annually. This year’s NVSO, held September 14-28 at locations throughout Northern Virginia, drew participants from across Fairfax County, many of whom are also frequent visitors to senior centers run by the county’s Department of Neighborhood & Community Services (NCS). According to Ruth Junkin, director of the Herndon Senior Center, her members went above and beyond for this year’s NVSO, practicing together and placing at several events. She said, “Our seniors didn’t just win medals – they also gained camaraderie, better health, friendships and fun!” Four of these Herndon Senior Center members – Barbara Kaminsky (of Herndon), Gigi MacLaughlin (Reston), Xiaobang Shi (Sterling) and Shaw Zee (Reston) – swept the table tennis event by earning gold medals in each of their age groups. Mr. Zee, who serves as Director at Large of the Herndon Senior Center Council, also earned a silver medal in the 1,600-meter walk and a bronze medal in 8-ball pool. Additionally, NCS staff volunteered at the NVSO. Kristen Lasich, NCS Manager of Technology and Communication Services, enjoyed timing swimmers at the September 20 event. She said of the experience, “I’m grateful that the county provides volunteer leave so that I can be a part of this wonderful event! Timing and cheering the swim events was so much fun. I’m absolutely inspired by these amazing athletes!” For more information on NVSO, visit https://nvso.us.
October 9, 2019
Join the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services for our second annual Fall Festival at Ox Hill Baptist Church in Chantilly! This event is FREE to the community and offers lots of information, exhibits and fun for the whole family. Co-sponsored by NCS in partnership with Ox Hill Baptist Church, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, and Pohanka Acura.
About Health & Human Services
This is agency is a part of Fairfax County Health & Human Services (HHS). HHS is a network of county agencies and community partners that support the well-being of all who live, work, and play in Fairfax County.