Perhaps Lions’ biggest contribution to the fight against measles and rubella comes in the form of social mobilization. Around the world, Lions are on the ground actively working to stop the spread of measles. Lions know their communities, and they know how to make an impact in those communities. Local Lions actively engage in social mobilization and advocacy to raise awareness about the dangers of measles and the benefits of vaccines. They go door-to-door, speaking to the parents of young children and educating them. Lions host parades and purchase radio advertisements to promote vaccination campaigns. They canvas their neighborhoods, affixing posters and passing out flyers. They speak to local and national officials, community members and clergy to increase the number of vaccination advocates in their areas, and work with our partners to reach even the most remote areas.
Just last week, the Lions of Chania Falls and Kilimambogo gathered in Thika Town to kick off the start of the 15 day Lions-sponsored Measles Rubella campaign roadshow, which will travel over 1,000 kilometers across the central part of Kenya, raising awareness in communities of the importance of immunization and the upcoming Measles-Rubella vaccination campaign. At each roadshow stop, local clubs will be working hard to raise awareness in their community to help ensure a strong turnout once the campaign launches. The Gavi-supported campaign will take place May 16–24, and is targeting 18 million children between the ages of 9 months and 14 years.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), measles deaths have been reduced by 71% since 2001. Alongside Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Lions clubs have worked with the Measles & Rubella Initiative to support this reduction. Recent experience shows that failure to vaccinate enough children against measles can result in serious outbreaks. As a result, the Gavi-Lions Clubs partnership will include support of routine immunization and strengthening health systems going forward. By 2020, more than 700 million children in 49 countries are expected to be immunized against measles and rubella.
When natural disasters strike, Lions are there to offer help and support. In times of need, Lions rely on disaster relief grants and funds from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). Emergency grants provide up to US$10,000 for districts impacted by a natural disaster that has affected at least 100 people, including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis.
In April 2016, LCIF awarded 4 emergency and disaster relief grants totaling US$40,000. These grants are addressing immediate needs in:
Malawi, District 412
$10,000 for flood relief
Uruguay, District J 1
$10,000 for flood relief
Texas, USA, District 2 S2
$10,000 for flood relief
Uruguay, District J 2
$10,000 for flood relief
Jim Ervin was just a few weeks into his career as a Lion in 1977 when fellow members of the Albany Lions Club in Georgia, USA, tapped him for an important job: selling brooms and mops to raise funds for the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation.
“We’d go around knocking on doors,” recalled Ervin, who became international president in 1999. “It was advertised through the radio and TV when the Lions were coming. So many people would wait until that time to buy their brooms and mops.”
Community spirit flourishes as neighbors come together at Lions fundraisers from pancake breakfasts and barbecues to fish fries and sausage roasts. Some local Lions projects have developed into full-scale national programs that raise millions of dollars annually. Consider the humble fruitcake, which entrepreneurial Lions in Australia, Canada and South Africa have turned into gold.
Selling Lions fruitcakes during the Christmas season began in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1951. Initially baked at home and sold to family, friends and neighbors, Canadian Lion fruitcakes are now produced by large commercial bakeries, packaged with holiday colors and the Lions emblem, and marketed over the Internet.
Starting in 1965 with the Lions Save-Sight Christmas Cake, Australia’s program has become a cherished holiday tradition. Under the direction of the National Cake Committee, the product line has expanded to include Christmas puddings, and annual sales have grown to more than 6 million Australian dollars.
From raffles to rubber duck races, Lions have also shown a flair for special events that bring communities together and keep the fun in fundraising. Lions held a benefit elephant soccer tournament in Nepal and dressed up as Smurfs—donning blue face paint and fuzzy blue coveralls—for a canoe race in Epping, New Hampshire, USA.
Selling items that people need, such as brooms, mops and light bulbs, not to mention items that people crave, such as mints and candy bars, has been a staple of Lions’ local fundraising efforts for decades.
“Like they say,” said Ervin, “where there’s a need, there’s a Lion.”
Also in this issue:
In the Digital LION, watch a video of a Veterans Day parade shot by a drone, read stories from the LION vault and view the Higher Key Award recipients.
Like the LION on Facebook.
Social-emotional learning has been proven to decrease problem behaviors such as bullying and substance use and increase positive behavior patterns such as self-discipline and conflict resolution. Lions Quest is LCIF’s social-emotional learning program (SEL), and the Lions of Multiple District (MD) 107 in Finland have successfully implemented Lions Quest. The Finnish government has recognized MD 107’s program as a leader in educational curricula for children, and the Ministry of Education and Culture even awarded MD 107 a grant to conduct teacher training workshops.
Local Lions’ involvement is key to Lions Quest’s success, and over the last 20 years Finnish Lions have raised more than US$6 million to support and grow Lions Quest. Since the first workshop in 1991, more than 16,000 teachers have been trained to implement the program in Finland. Eight certified trainers host teacher training workshops throughout the country. Teachers are trained to work in multicultural classrooms, focusing on diversity and addressing the educational needs of refugee children.
Finnish Lions have expanded Lions Quest beyond the traditional classrooms to focus on youth sports. Trained in much the same way teachers are, coaches encourage good sportsmanship, teamwork and conflict resolution.
Understanding that the needs of today’s students are ever-changing, the Lions also created a guide to Internet safety and cyber-bullying prevention. “Responsibility is Mine” teaches children not only how to keep themselves safe online but also discourages them from hurting others.
Taking the program even further, Finnish Lions have become global leaders in the research of SEL. In collaboration with the University of Helsinki, MD 107 conducted a study that showed that Lions Quest training is effective at building teachers’ ability to develop social and emotional skills in their students. This research was published in the European Journal of Social and Behavioural Sciences.
Lions leaders in Finland work with local Lions on Lions Quest, serving as an example of what can be achieved when Lions are committed to a goal.
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of LION Magazine.
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