One of the first major service interactions I was involved in here in Memphis was one I got the opportunity to lead: Eye Spy a Day at the Zoo. In a nut shell, it is a Saturday at the Memphis Zoo where the zoo attendees can participate in stations throughout their day and learn about how human and animal eyes work and how to keep them healthy. There are 8 different stations that address topics such as why optical illusions work, learning about color vision with spin art, and learning how to protect your eyes from the sun while making UV bead key chains.
Before the event, I was not sure how many people coming to the zoo would be interested in the event, but by the day of, the response was amazing. Seeing kids (and parents) get so excited to learn about eyes while having fun made my heart sing. One of the questions on our check-in form is “when was your last eye exam?” Many people stated that their child had never had an eye exam. This allowed us as optometry students to inform them of the importance of getting a comprehensive exam even if there are no obvious issues. The number of people who expressed that they had no idea, but would make an effort to go, was astounding. I think the different stations helped enforce these ideas, just in seeing how many things can occur with the eyes that most people (including myself before school) have no idea about.
Being able to make such a large impact with a single event was something I really hadn’t been involved in. It made me realize how important it is to reach out to the surrounding community. To help them be the best they can be by being healthy in as many aspects as possible, and the one I can help with is their eyes. Seeing the kids as they dropped off their punch cards with their pipe cleaner glasses asking, “Did you have fun?” and getting “YES” yelled back, then following with “Did you learn something?” and getting the exact same excited “YES” back made all the work that went into the event beyond worth it. Eye Spy a Day at the Zoo is an event I am already looking forward to next year!
Alexis Clay is from Florida and is a second-year student (Class of 2021) at Southern College of Optometry. She is involved in multiple clubs on campus and enjoys being involved in the community.