Padded turf on the new playground in Belton, Texas, makes it easy for children in wheelchairs to access the park.

Special Playground Brings Joy to Kids

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With the help of your community anything is possible. For proof, look no further than Belton, Texas, where the smiling faces of children brighten a new handicapped-accessible playground made possible by the efforts of local Lions, the community of Belton and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF).

The story of the inclusive playground began in 2012 when city officials and the Belton Lions decided their town needed a place where all children could play, regardless of physical ability. As always, finances presented a challenge, but after raising US$50,000 from the community over two years—along with matching funds from the city of Belton—Lions were awarded a $75,000 Standard grant by LCIF to cover the remaining costs. After years of fundraising and hard work, the playground began to take shape.

Over the next several months, Lion planners worked with the Texasbased We Build Fun, Inc. to build the playground and assemble the equipment. In December 2014, the community of Belton came together to celebrate the partnership that made the playground possible. The project cost $180,000.

“This is another great day in Belton,” City Manager Sam Listi told the Belton Journal at the opening of the park. “Both the Belton Lions Club and [LCIF] were a major part of this project, and local citizens contributed over $50,000.”

The playground, which measures 5,400 square feet, features handicapped-accessible equipment including slides, a merry-go-round, monkey bars and more. Multiple ramps allow wheelchair access to the full park, so special-needs individuals such as parents and guardians can observe the children. Padded turf adds further accessibility by forgoing the gravel and sand found in most playgrounds for a material much friendlier to wheelchairs.

“With the help of individual donations from Lions members, the City of Belton and [LCIF], we were able to fund the playground. It was truly a joint community project,” says Robert Jones of the Belton Lions Club. “Wheelchairs can access all areas of the playground because of the artificial padded turf and multiple access ramps. The equipment is for all children, and is used daily by visitors, special field trips by local child care centers and Belton school special needs field trips. It is just an amazing facility.”

For information on Standard grants and to find out how your Lions club can apply, visit

This article by Eric Margules first appeared in the July/August issue of LION Magazine.

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Melody Bettenhausen of Ensight shows Maurine how to use a closed circuit monitor/ desktop video magnifier to write a check. (Photo by Wayne Crownhart 2015)

LCIF Provides Sight and Hope in Colorado

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“I’m sorry, but you are going blind. We can’t do anything about it.”

For many people diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), these words can stir fear, anger and confusion. For 80-year-old Maurine Sanford, they spurred defiance. “I’m not going to let that happen!” Sanford vowed.

While Sanford’s blue eyes may look healthy, her sight is mostly blurry and dark. She has geographic atrophy, a late stage of the dry form of AMD. When Sanford’s good friend Mary Duncan, who lives with low vision due to glaucoma, learned about Sanford’s condition, she recommended that Sanford visit the Ensight Skills Center for Visual Rehabilitation in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Ensight is the only nationally accredited, low-vision clinic in Colorado that offers a complete set of services to assist people who have low vision to improve their life skills, independence and self-confidence. The Fort Collins Lions Club has been a major supporter of Ensight since the clinic was established in 2001. In 2013, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) awarded a US$200,050 grant to fund a threeyear SightFirst project to expand lowvision mobile services throughout Colorado. As the implementing partner, Ensight purchased a van and equipped it with eye exam tools and devices.

For the past two years, the Onsite van has traveled around rural Colorado promoting low-vision care, educating the local Lions and the community about tools and techniques available for people with low vision and providing low-vision evaluation and rehabilitation services. More than 100 Lion volunteers have participated in low-vision evaluation and education events, provided logistical support or taken the lead in information sessions. More than 290 low-vision patients have received rehabilitation services and follow-up consultations including home visits.

Over the past two years, Sanford has met regularly with an occupational therapist and an optometrist, who have helped her identify ways to better use her remaining vision such as turning her home into a low-vision friendly space. Low-vision patients like Sanford are assessed simultaneously by therapists and optometrists, who provide a personalized plan of action including follow-up care such as phone calls and home visits.

Sanford is grateful to all who have helped her along the way. “Before, I walked around hunched down, not wanting to do anything for fear of being hurt. But thanks to Ensight and the Lions of Colorado, I am able to stand up straight and move forward to the next phase of my life,” she says.

District 6 NE Governor Bob Kitchell and Ensight Board Chairperson Lion Doug Hutchinson believe that the SightFirst project has successfully reached out to an underserved population who were not only losing sight but losing hope as well. Hutchinson, who has low vision, says, “I am amazed at how minor adjustments in actions and behavior can have major positive results in my dayto-day life. As a Lion, I proudly support our initiative and we look forward to helping more people in Colorado.”

For information on SightFirst programs and grants, visit

This article by Marie Anne Sliwinski first appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of LION Magazine.

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Relief efforts in Taiwan

Message from the Chairperson: Our Foundation is Caring and Compassionate

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Earlier this month, Typhoon Soudelor tore through the Pacific Ocean. Once a super-typhoon, Soudelor has claimed dozens of lives already. Millions of families are without water, electricity or shelter. The storm has caused monsoon rains, high winds, flooding and landslides throughout the region.

Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) responded immediately. A US$10,000 Emergency grant was awarded to the Lions of District 204 Micronesia for relief efforts in Saipan. A US$200,000 Major Catastrophe grant was awarded to Multiple District 300 Taiwan to assist with both immediate needs and long-term reconstruction.

The Lions of MD 300 Taiwan, China and Micronesia are coming to the aid of their neighbors. But they need your help. Rebuilding after Typhoon Soudelor will be no easy task, but Lions and our Foundation are committed to supporting the humanitarian needs within these communities for the short and long term. Please consider making a contribution to LCIF’s disaster relief fund and giving hope to those who have been devastated by this disaster.

Our thoughts and prayers go out all who have been affected by Typhoon Soudelor.


Joe Preston
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation

Visit to read the LCIF August Newsletter.

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Lions Clubs International

Upcoming Webinars: Lions Leadership in Action

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Lions Leadership in Action—Two Dynamic LCI Webinars

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” — John C. Maxwell


Effective leaders build a strong framework to plan and manage work.  The ability to accomplish goals and manage effective meetings are skill sets critical to this framework and will be explored in two upcoming LCI Leadership Development webinars.

In September’s Goal Setting and Action Planning, Lions will learn how to optimize club success by strategic goal planning and execution.  This online training offers tools for:

  • defining SMART goals,
  • developing an action plan and
  • managing goals for the best results.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015, 12:00pm (12 Noon) CDT
Friday, September 11, 2015, 7:00pm (19:00) CDT

Meeting Management in October will discuss the elements of effective meeting management including:

  • planning and procedures,
  • agenda preparation,
  • essential facilitation skills and
  • post-meeting action steps.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 12:00pm (12 Noon) CDT
Friday, October 16, 2015 7:00pm (19:00) CDT

Together these two webinars will increase your ability to provide strong and motivational Lions Leadership in Action!

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Vote Helen Keller for #TheNew10

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“Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness; no little deaf, blind child untaught; no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you Lions, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness?”

Helen Keller, Lions International Convention
Cedar Point, Ohio, USA
June 30, 1925

The new US$10 bill, to be issued in 2020, will feature the face of a woman. The Helen Keller Foundation is encouraging Lions to vote for Helen Keller via Twitter (use the hashtag #TheNew10) or at Be sure to spread the word to your fellow Lions, friends and family!

Helen Keller famously challenged Lions to become “Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness,” and Lions have been well known for sight programs aimed at preventable blindness ever since.

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