We’re at the Special Olympics World Winter Games, meeting athletes from around the world! From March 14th until March 25, Austria is hosting the 2017 World Winter Games. 2,700 athletes from 107 nations will be participating in nine different sports including figure skating, speed skating, floor hockey and more.
Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has been involved with Special Olympics International since the inception of their collaborative program, Opening Eyes, which promotes vision and eye health for Special Olympics athletes. People who are disabled are largely underserved when it comes to vision care. Since 2001, Opening Eyes has screened more than 370,000 Special Olympics athletes. More than 161,000 athletes have received prescription eyewear.
Funded by an LCIF Core 4 grant, Opening Eyes continues to screen athletes for visual impairments and eye health. Corrective and protective eyewear are provided to the athlete, if needed. In addition, athletes are taught how to take care of their eyes.
In 2014, Lions, Leos and Special Olympics kicked off “Mission: Inclusion” – a dynamic social tool that brings Leos and people with and without intellectual disabilities together to join together on the field of play. With Leos serving as global leaders in community service and advocacy, the match is one that brings added benefits to Leos and Special Olympics athletes alike.
In early March 2017, the Somers Leo Club (New York, USA) participated in a Mission: Inclusion floor hockey activity with the Special Olympics World Winter Games USA team. Here’s what they had to say about the experience:
Leo Brandon LaSpina:
“Through the Leos I have been privileged to work with Special Olympians in Track, Basketball and now Floor Hockey. I have met athletes which cover the entire spectrum of functionality and the one thing that I have learned is that each athlete always has a smile on their face, is determined. They always rise to the occasion and do not let their disability deter or define who they are.”
Leo Mia Klayman:
“The Leos Club and Special Olympics changed the way I think about people with developmental disabilities. My experience made me realize that these people with disabilities not only want to do the same things that we do, but that they are capable of doing so. They are still able to be apart of a sports team and compete against other people. Their disability does not have to define them.”
Leo Jon Riina:
“I especially enjoyed interacting with the athletes and listening to their stories about their amazing journey thus far as well as their upcoming trip to Austria. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for these kids and wish them the best of luck. So much about them surprised me and I will always remember the time I spent with them.”
The Next Steps for Past District Governors [WEBINAR]
As a Past District Governor, your knowledge, experience and leadership are all valuable assets that Lions will continue to rely upon well past your term as District Governor.
The “PDG” acronym can be thought of as “Please Don’t Go!” Although your term has ended, your continued leadership is going to be needed and appreciated in many different ways.
We will explore paths of continued Lion involvement a Past District Governor could embrace that are both personally satisfying and that further the mission and goals of LCI.
We will suggest possible continued leadership opportunities, such as:
The International Association of Lions Clubs was anything but international when formed in Chicago in 1917. At its inception, about two dozen clubs were scattered around the central United States in places such as Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas. Lions suspected, however, that their group would soon live up to its multinational name. Service and volunteerism are contagious, especially when combined with a bit of fun.
It didn’t take long. Just three years later, in 1920, Lions became truly international with the establishment of its first club outside U.S. borders in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Located across the river from Detroit, Michigan, Windsor was a bustling border town in 1920, benefitting from the region’s booming automotive industry. Detroit, birthplace of the moving automobile assembly line, had just formed its own Lions club earlier that year and word was quickly spreading about the association. Windsor’s volunteer-minded citizens were intrigued. Through Lions Clubs, they could serve their growing community and improve the lives of their neighbors.
Michigan District 11 Governor Anthony Menke was known as a dynamic force in area business circles, and the enthusiastic leader was eager to make the Canadian Lions club a reality. Under his guidance, the Detroit Lions sponsored the Windsor club, which soon sprang into action and began serving fellow Canadians with Lions’ fervor. The Windsor club would later make its mark by introducing Canadians to the white cane, a safety identification tool for the visually impaired.
After founding the Windsor club in Canada, Lions moved into China and Mexico. In 1926, the first Lions Club in China was established in Tianjin (formerly Tientsin). A year later, Mexico’s Nuevo Laredo Fundadores Club joined the association with the help of Lions across the border in neighboring Laredo, Texas.
Today, Lions are serving those in need through clubs in more than 200 countries and geographic areas. As the largest service organization in the world, Lions Clubs International goes wherever the Lion-hearted are found.
Explore the exciting history of Lions clubs with the complete series of Touchstone stories.
According to its Ministry of Health, Kenya has a shortage of ear, nose, and throat (ENT) health care. There are more than 600,000 Kenyans who cannot hear properly. Without access to early treatment, they are at risk of completely losing their sense of hearing. Rendered deaf, a parent may lose the ability to work and provide for their family. It also could mean a child might not hear the loving voice of his or her mother or the instructions from their teacher at school, putting them at risk of falling behind and becoming dependent on others.
Last year, the Aruna Ahbey Oswal Trust joined forces with LCIF to create a partnership called the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF)/ Aruna Abhey Oswal Trust Humanitarian Initiative Partnership. This partnership supports LCIF’s initiatives in sight, youth, disaster relief, measles, and humanitarian efforts. Partners are a large and important part of how LCIF is able to carry out life-changing projects and programs, for example, the construction of an ENT center within M.P. Shah Hospital in Kenya.
The new, state-of-the-art Aruna Abhey Oswal Pediatric ENT Centre at the Children’s Medical Centre is addressing the dire need for ENT care in the region. Inaugurated in January 2017, the clinic provides diagnoses, evaluations, and treatments for both common and complex ENT, head, and neck complications. It is estimated that the center will provide consultations for 2,500 patients and 390 major procedures will be performed annually.
The new ENT center is an addition to a hospital that has been around since the 1930s. M.P. Shah Hospital is a not-for-profit hospital that provides medical, nursing, and rehabilitative care. Thirty percent of its revenue supports services for those who could not otherwise afford medical care.
In an area where medical care is not always affordable, this ENT center is an important component in local citizens’ healthcare. Dr. Bhupi Reel, a Consultant Pediatric Intensivist at the hospital said, “The ENT center has been an invaluable addition to the Children’s Hospital. We recently referred a 3-year-old girl who had inhaled a small whistle that was ‘whistling’ with each breath. As we now have the luxury of ENT on site, we were able to take the child to [the operating room] and remove the ‘foreign body’ less than an hour after presentation. This prevented any complicated lung infection that would have likely left her in ICU needing ventilation. In addition, this was carried out as a CSR [corporate social responsibility] activity because the family could not afford treatment. Hence, the pediatric team would like to sincerely extend our gratitude to the introduction of this service.”
The hospital is also doing ENT check-up camps at nearby schools as a corporate social responsibility activity, which means the services are performed at no cost to the patient. In addition, all of the babies born at the hospital receive special testing for hearing and ENT complications at a reduced cost to their families. For babies who do have ENT issues, treatment can begin immediately, improving the likelihood of overcoming their problems.
The Aruna Abhey Oswal Pediatric ENT Centre at the Children’s Medical Centre in M.P. Shah Hospital is just one example of the projects the LCIF/ Aruna Abhey Oswal Trust Humanitarian Initiative Partnership is addressing. Because of the partnership’s support, Kenyans who desperately need ENT care are able to get the help they may not have received otherwise.
To support causes like this one, consider making a donation today.
What seemed like routine flood warnings to the community of Rapid City, South Dakota, USA, soon turned into ravaging floods that took the lives of more than 200 people, left more than 5,000 people homeless, and created more than US$100 million in property damage. Local Lions did what would soon become our legacy, being among the first to arrive with relief. This event also marked the first grant ever awarded by Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), US$5,000 to help the community rebuild after the catastrophic floods.
Since then, every day, LCIF works to fulfill its mission: “To support the efforts of Lions clubs and partners in serving communities locally and globally, giving hope and impacting lives through humanitarian service projects and grants.” Serving alongside many dedicated Lions, LCIF has made a significant impact on the world. In fact, I am proud to announce LCIF has awarded more than 13,000 grants totaling over US$1 billion since being founded in 1968.
We reached this milestone through our continuous efforts to support Lion-led initiatives in the areas of sight, youth, disaster relief, and other humanitarian initiatives. Every day, Lions are working to make a difference. Whether you are helping a grandparent see their grandchild for the first time, educating school children in your town, cleaning up a community after a flood, or working to end measles, you are making this world a better place.
As we prepare to celebrate LCIF’s 50th anniversary, look for messages about the impact that this US$1 billion has on the world. Watch this video to learn how LCIF is changing lives for students in the Philippines who are visually impaired.
Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
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