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Renata Bowlden and Julia Barcott

WSNA members Julia Barcott and Renata Bowlden travelled to the island of St. Croix on April 7 as part of an AFT project. During the weeklong trip, April 8-14, AFT nurses are providing thousands of hearing and vision screenings to students on the island, which is still recovering from hurricanes Irma and Maria that hit the Virgin Islands last September.

“We’re up at 5 a.m. and back to the room around 5:30 p.m.,” Barcott said.

Among the many stories of children helped, some stand out as making a big difference in the life and learning of the students.

"Yesterday (April 11) we screened a 1st grade boy that was held back because he failed,” Barcott said. “Ended up we found out he was basically deaf and wasn't hearing hardly anything, so now he'll be getting hearing aids. On Tuesday my sister did a vision exam on a teenager that couldn't see the eye chart. She had broken her glasses years ago. We put glasses on her and all of us started clapping and crying because she could read!! She was sooooo excited.”

The trip is part of AFT’s comprehensive assistance to the Virgin Islands, which has included help for teachers and school staff and shipments of books and school supplies, which were given to students across the Virgin Islands.