Lions Quest is helping students in Turkey learn how to handle tough situations in a positive way.
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.