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Local robotics team advocating for Michigan Senate bill

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- The Michigan Senate is considering a bill that would require a comprehensive eye and vision exam for students who fail the already required grade school vision test. High school students from a local robotics club advocate for it, after one of their former teammates suffered from an undiagnosed vision problem for years. 

In an old warehouse on North Main Street in Benton Harbor, students from five Southwest Michigan high schools design, build, and test robots. The club competes against other schools in robotic competitions, but the program isn't all fun. 

“We don’t just build robots," said Jarod Martin, a club member. 

They also do community outreach. The club's latest service project involved helping out a former teammate. 

"A few kids can make a big difference. That’s what they’re doing here," said Mark Scorupa.  

Mark Scorupa's son Vince, participated in C.W. Tech all four years of high school. But for 18 years of his life, Vince struggled with vision problems. He couldn't focus and would see double. It affected his school work. 

“We held Vince back," said Scorupa. "There was a lot of issues with homework.”

During his senior year, doctors diagnosed Vince with convergence insufficiency. C.I. is a condition in which the eyes don't work with the brain when focusing on nearby objects. Vince went through treatment and is now cured. 

"I really see a change in him now in the confidence," said Kevin Scorupa. "He's more social. He loves to do stuff."  

C.W. Tech used Vince's story at the state level last Tuesday. Three members spoke in front of the Michigan Senate. 

"Speaking in front of the senate was really nervewracking," Martin said. 

They advocated for Senate Bill 411. The bill would require students who fail an already required school vision test, to receive a comprehensive eye and vision exam. 

"It could change the lives of so many students and the families," said Scorupa. 

The Michigan Senate is still debating the bill. A vote hasn't been set either. But for Vince's dad, the bill has already passed.

"Knowing that teammates can make a difference, and I’m proud of them all," said Scorupa. 

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