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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
Being a Lion means caring about our communities and about the well-being of others. Lions want to help people have better lives, and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) supports that compassionate work. Through vision screenings, service projects and community involvement, Lions and LCIF are making positive contributions every day.
LCIF works to fight diseases worldwide. In West Africa, we are providing support to those affected by Ebola, focusing primarily on food programs for vulnerable communities. An even more contagious and deadly disease is measles. Measles kills 330 children each day, and may create lasting health issues for those who survive. There is a global need for vaccination efforts to fight this disease. Lions and LCIF continue to work tirelessly with our partners to bring vaccination campaigns to the areas of the world where they are most needed. In October, Lions in Tanzania were key social mobilization partners in a GAVI-supported MR campaign that vaccinated some 21 million children between 9 months to 14 years against measles and rubella. Your donation supports Lions as they make sure that children have access to life-saving vaccines.
Thank you for your support and your dedication to improving health worldwide!
Barry J. Palmer
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
The Baggao Lions Club in the Philippines organized a coastal clean-up activity. This “Protecting Our Environment” project not only helped clean up the beach, but also raised awareness for the importance of having clean coastal areas.
Lions all around the world are working towards a common goal of serving 100 million people by 2017 through youth, vision, health and environmental projects as part of the Centennial Service Challenge. In order to keep track of how many people we are serving, we ask that Lions record their activities on MyLCI. Don’t forget to upload pictures from you project on social media and use the hashtag #LIONS100 so that other clubs can see the impact you are making in your community.
How is your club Protecting Our Environment?
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