The Milagro Melvin Jones Lions Club in Ecuador organized the third version of their hunger and literacy project –providing 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students with food and books. Students enjoyed story time, a healthy snack and were able to get their face painted. It was another great success for those in the community.
We encourage Lions all across the globe to participate in the Centennial Service Challenge by organizing youth, vision, hunger and environmental projects. These projects count towards our goal of serving 100 million people by 2017. Lions, report your activities to MyLCI and share pictures on social media sites using the hashtag #LIONS100. That way other clubs can see how you’re making an impact in your community.
How are you feeding children in your community?
LCIF awarded a US$100,000 grant to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) to plant trees in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Recently, Lions Club (LC) Nairobi Runda, LC Nairobi FOSOK Champions, LC Stand Up Shout Out, LC Thika Kilimambogo, LC Nairobi Karen, LC Nairobi Dagoretti and LC Nairobi Central teamed up with Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), Girl Guides, Serena Hotel and community members to plant trees near the Ndakaini Dam. The Ndakaini Dam supplies 80 percent of Nairobi’s drinking water. Together, they planted 25,000 trees to protect the dam catchment area.
The Lions Club of Bloomfield, New York received an irregular result during one of their vision screenings at the local elementary school. Brianna Leitten was one of 11 students, but as a result of further testing, the Leittens discovered a cancerous tumor in their daughter’s eye. Thanks to the vision screening camera the Lions used, Brianna’s life was saved.
Through their yearly vision screenings, the Bloomfield Lions Club is able to help test the eyesight of preschool and kindergarten children. “Oftentimes young students have no idea if they’re having trouble with their vision,” says Mary Sue Bennett, principal of Bloomfield Elementary. Students who struggle with their vision will have a hard time succeeding in school, which is why it is important to screen at an early age.
Within 30 seconds of taking a picture, the camera can determine whether the child has passed or needs to be referred for further testing. Mike Bartle, the Lion who screened Brianna, said, “The camera has a set of criteria. And so if it detects anything that’s out of the tolerance levels, it’ll come up and it’ll say either refer or pass if everything is adequate.”
It is estimated that about 19 million children are visually impaired. Lions work to improve sight by screening hundreds of thousands of people every year.
Below, read advice and tips from the Bloomfield Lions to help you get started and plan a vision screening in your community.
Brianna, her mother and Lion Mike Bartle will be on the panel discussing this year’s theme, “Children in Need,” at the Lions Day with the UN on March 7th, 2015. Join us as we celebrate 70 years of partnership!
Lions’ long history of improving vision is what helped William Wildhack decide to become a Lion 20 years ago. “What attracted me to Lions is the emphasis on sight and what we as Lions do for those in need. Without corrective lenses, I am about 20/1000. Eye sight has always been very important to me, probably because mine isn’t so good,” Wildhack explained.
Wildhack, an attorney and IRS agent, understands just how important combating vision loss is, as well as how treatable it is for the majority of the world’s people with sight problems. It is this understanding that prompted Wildhack to first become a Melvin Jones Fellow (MJF) with a US$1,000 donation, and then a Progressive Melvin Jones Fellow (PMJF), with subsequent US$1,000 donations. “I became a PMJF because I know that every minute of every day, someone goes blind, and 80 percent of all blindness is preventable. The need is great, and one way I can help is through LCIF.” Wildhack serves as a passionate ambassador for Lions clubs and LCIF in his community; he has even persuaded several non-Lions to become Melvin Jones Fellows.
Wildhack’s Lions club became very involved with supporting SightFirst with the first fundraising campaign, and continued raising funds for Campaign SightFirst II (CSFII). “Through CSFII, we raised funds by meeting with individuals or other groups face to face, through local cable TV, speaking to Lions clubs, other groups and especially my clients,” said Wildhack.
And for Wildhack, the rewards of supporting LCIF and Sightfirst keep paying off: “It feels really good to know that by raising US$57,000 for SightFirst, our Lions club saved more than 9,500 individuals from blindness. In fact, I still get choked up when I read or hear updates about the individuals reached through our SightFirst program.”
From LCIF: Our Impact Story Archives
Students worldwide confront bullying, peer pressure and a day’s worth of anxious moments that impact their health, academic performance and well-being. In Turkey, these challenges—and their outcomes—are even more consequential because of a highly competitive school system with limited opportunities for post-secondary education.
“Turkey has a very young population. Only one-third of the kids can go into university. There is a lot of competition. The kids are always under stress,” says Past District Governor Nilgun Erdem Niord of the Mavi Halic Lions Club.
This is where Lions Quest comes in. Through this Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) program, students are learning valuable life skills and discovering how to make positive choices through social and emotional learning. The program is now in public and private schools across Turkey.
Since 2009, Lions in Multiple District (MD) 118 have been given more than $275,000 in LCIF grants for Lions Quest, working with the Turkish Lions Foundation. For the Lions of Turkey, these grants helped make change possible. “My club has always been active in education. When we knew that we could get help from LCIF to start Lions Quest, it helped us to push the button and start,” says Niord.
Currently, Lions Quest is the only social and emotional learning program available in Turkey, where it has the support of the Ministry of Education. An evaluation of Lions Quest in Turkey is being conducted through Bospherus University, with results forthcoming. However, Lions and educators already can see the value of social and emotional learning.
“I got involved in the program because the training was so impressive to me,” says Mine Guven, a professor of early childhood education at Bospherus University. “The challenges are the same all around the world. By using Lions Quest we manage to have peaceful classrooms.”
More than 1,000 teachers in Turkey have been trained to use Lions Quest in the classroom, reaching thousands of students. “Educating–giving some skills to one teacher means you’re reaching hundreds, thousands of children in a lifetime,” says Fatos Erkman, a professor of education, a trained clinical psychologist and an administrator of the Bospherus University Peace Education Application and Research Center. “We’re very excited to be in alliance with Lions clubs because one of the aims of our center is for peace education at all levels. The Lions Quest curriculum for all grade levels is very fitting in our ideals.”
Updated Lions Quest materials addressing modern issues and challenges facing our children will be available in early 2015. Through grants, MD 118 will translate, adapt and update the curriculum to reflect Turkish culture. The goal is to create an environment in which students can focus and get more out of their classroom experience. So far, it seems to be working.
“Peace starts in the individual, and this is what Lions Quest is doing,” says Niord. “We are teaching the children how to be peaceful within themselves, how to be peaceful within their societies. And this will bring a peaceful world.”
*This story by Allie Lawrence originally appeared in the November 2014 edition of LION Magazine.
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