Childhood Blindness Project

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No Longer Turned Away

Carlos was born blind in both eyes from cataracts. For the first three years of his life, he and his parents were shuffled from one clinic to the next, spending all their savings on eye exams. Out of desperation, they even sold their car. His father recalls, “We kept getting sent to different doctors, who took our money but did nothing. Here in Ecuador, there is no health system for the poor. People are left to die on the streets.”

Every minute a child goes blind

Carlos was one of the estimated 1.4 million children around the world are blind, yet the vision of 75 percent of these children could have been saved if they only had access to effective eye care. Accounting for 21 percent of total cases of blindness in Latin America, childhood blindness is especially prevalent in countries like Ecuador.

Offered a new outlook

But darkness was not in five-year-old Carlos’ future. Through a regular screening offered by Lions, his family heard about the Metrofraternidad Foundation (FMF). At the LCIF-funded childhood blindness center in Ecuador, Carlos received surgery that restored his vision. Part of a SightFirst and World Health Organization joint initiative, FMF is one of 34 needs-based pediatric Lions eye care centers around the world committed to eliminating avoidable blindness in children. Since the Lions started supporting FMF in 2003, the number of children treated each year has risen steadily from 500 to more than 1,500 annually.

Today, young Carlos enjoys going to school and playing with his friends. He still receives treatment for strabismus, which developed after the cataract surgeries, but his vision continues to improve. “If it weren’t for the FMF, my son would still be blind,” said his father, grateful for the intervention of the Lions.

Read more about how Lions are fighting avoidable childhood blindness.

From LCIF: Our Impact Story Archives

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Leos Twinning in Cyprus

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On November 2, 2014, the Izmir Mersinli Leo Club of Turkey and the Lefkosa Lider Leo Club of Cyprus arranged a twinning ceremony. Together, the twin clubs organized an event at a foster home for children where they participated in coloring activities and snacks with the kids. Visit their Facebook pages for more pictures and recent events.

The International Club Twinning Program allows Lions and Leos to learn about another club and its culture. This is a voluntary, mutual agreement that takes place between two like clubs in different countries.15160217284_7319d911e9_z

How to Select a Club Twin

Twinnings vary from club-to-club and can occur as a result of:

  • friendships made when club members from different countries meet at international forums or conventions
  • using the Club Locator to search for other clubs.
  • assistance from a Lions International Relations Chairperson or International Understanding and Cooperation Chairperson

Awards and Recognition

After developing a twinning relationship, the clubs can apply for an International Club Twinning Banner Patch Award.

Visit our Club Twinning Guidelines page on our website for more information.

What is your favorite part about Twinning?

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Giving Tuesday

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Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season.

When you decide where you will give on Giving Tuesday, we hope you think of your foundation, LCIF. Read some of our impact stories to learn how your donation will help Lions serve millions of people around the world.

Did you know…

  • A $20 donation provides more than 20 children a life-saving immunization against measles?
  • A $50 donation provides adaptive devices for people with low vision?
  • A $100 donation provides life skills to 10 children through the Lions Quest program?
  • A $1,000 donation provides food, water and basic necessities for dozens of families following a disaster?

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, give because you care. Give to make a change. And give to make a difference. #GivingTuesday

Make a difference, donate to LCIF

Thank you for your support!

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Guest Post by Special Olympics: Service and Excitement for “Mission: Inclusion” in Brazil

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a guest post by David Evangelista, Vice President of Global Development and Government Relations at Special Olympics International. 

“Thank you Lions Clubs of Brazil. Thank you for believing in us as athletes. Thank you for giving us opportunities to shine. You may be surprised, but you will not be disappointed!”

These words, offered by Special Olympics Brazil athlete Leticia Elias, provided a great introduction to the 2014 Special Olympics Brazil–Lions Clubs of Brazil stakeholders meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The stakeholders meeting served as the inauguration of a national partnership between Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) in Brazil, highlighting the commitment of both organizations to implement the core tenants of “Mission: Inclusion” throughout the country in support of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

As part of the national partnership, signed between Special Olympics Brazil President George Milliard and Lions Clubs International Director Fabio Almeida, both organizations have committed to delivering innovative programming in the areas of inclusive sports, global health, family health education, athlete leadership, service projects and much more as part of a larger push to elevate the impact and awareness of service in support of one of the most excluded populations in the world today.

Partnership Signing

Photo credit Special Olympics Inc.

Leo youth leaders will play a strong role in the national partnership, spearheading Unified Sports® opportunities for youth with and without intellectual disabilities in a variety of sports, including football, the nation’s most popular sport.  Through inclusive sports participation, Leos will not only empower athletes to achieve their best on the field, but will also offer athletes an opportunity to engage in community service projects, build friendships, and learn from one another.

“We are honored to be partnering with the largest service club organization in the world,” said George Milliard, President of Special Olympics Brazil. “Our athletes, our families, and our communities could not be more grateful for this commitment to service, to action, to change.”

Outreach to families will serve as a key pillar of the partnership, where Lions Clubs community leaders will serve as co-organizers and guest speakers at select Special Olympics–LCIF Family Health Forums. Through such community gatherings, families of children with intellectual disabilities will learn what social services are available to help care for their family members, what community participation opportunities exist, and learn of the benefits of being part of the “Mission:  Inclusion” partnership. The Family Health Forum model is meant to serve as a key extension of the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program, and related health screening programs supported by Lions, which serves as the largest public health program in the world supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Bem Me Ker

Photo credit Special Olympics Inc.

“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the partnership between Special Olympics and Lions Clubs in Brazil,” said LCIF Chairperson Barry Palmer. “These athletes deserve, and should have access to, quality care that is appropriate to their individual needs. We must work hard to ensure that we sustain what we create, on behalf of those we serve. LCIF looks forward to sharing in the success of this collaboration and celebrating its progress.”

Lions Clubs International Foundation has been partnering with Special Olympics International since 2001 through the Opening Eyes program to provide free vision screenings at select Special Olympics sporting events worldwide. Athletes also receive diagnoses for vision-related problems, corrective and protective eye wear, and are taught how to take better care of their eyes. The partnership expanded in 2013 to reach even more people.

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Pizz-A-Thon Partnership

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Sixteen years ago, Eldon Weber had a desire to teach children the importance of the agricultural industry, including how we get our food and the impact agriculture has on our economy. While employed at Iowa State University, he developed the Pizz-A-Thon experience. Over the sixteen year period his program continued to grow. By working closely with teachers and their students in Iowa and the Quad Cities, he was able to adapt his objectives and goals to follow the Core Learning Standards required by the State Departments of Education. Eldon was able to expand the program in 2000 to middle schools in North Carolina.

What is the Pizz-A-Thon?

Students work in teams to create a pizza by determining the ingredients they will use and identifying the food stages by way of tracing the ingredients back to the soil. They are also required to come up with a marketing campaign and must “sell” their pizza through a presentation to the judges. At the time Eldon was on faculty at Iowa State University, the winning team represented its school at a state competition which was held in May at the University. Students were given a tour of the ISU grounds –visiting the greenhouse, dairy and more. Although they do not have a state competition currently, he hopes to develop one in the future with after school clubs.

Enter the Lions

In 2013, Eldon invited the Ames Breakfast Lions Clubof Iowa to host the program. Prior to their hosting, while Eldon was president of the Ames Breakfast Lions, the club assisted in testing the program with the Boys & Girls Club of Story County –a success that gave them confidence that it would be a good program to use in connecting with youth and families. As Past President of the Ames Breakfast Lions Club and active member, Eldon tweaked the program to fit Lions Clubs goals of benefitting our youth.

Making an Impact

Together as a Lions Club, they reached 150 youth in Ames, Iowa this year. Between 1998 and now, over 5,000 children have participated in the Pizz-A-Thon program. More than halfway to their goal, Eldon and the Ames Breakfast Lions are striving to reach 10,000 children by 2016.2008 QC PAT Judging 11-22-13

Interested in learning more about the Pizz-A-Thon program or how to start a branch in your community? Visit their website for more information.

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