The Izmir Turk Cyber Lions Club in D118-R Turkey organized “Days of Creativity.” During the month of August, the Lions held a two day event doing crafts with a group of six 10-year-old children. Under the theme of “protecting the environment, nature and animals” the children created crowns, cars and other toys out of used paper towel rolls, and decorated reusable cloth tote bags. At the end of the day, the children received certificates to take home with them.
Engaging Our Youth projects are part of the Centennial Service Challenge, in which Lions are encouraged to serve 100 million people by 2017. Record your activities through MyLCI and share your service activity on Facebook and other social media sites. By using the hashtag #LIONS100, you allow clubs all over the world to see how you are making a difference.
How are you engaging youth in your community?
Our guest post today was an article posted in the Wisconsin LION magazine, “Why Me?” by Lion BJ Blahmik. He tells his experience being visually impaired and how he did the one thing he thought he never could do … sailing. The Lions of Wisconsin are sponsoring the World Championship of Blind Sailing in Sheboygan on September 9th-14th. Check out the Wisconsin Lion’s Facebook page or the Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan’s Facebook page for updates on the events.
My name is BJ Blahnik and I am visually impaired from Retinitis Pigmentosa. I still have some vision, however it is very limited. The community would consider me visually impaired, but I consider myself visually challenged. As my sight diminished, I was forced to make a life change and turn in my driver’s license when I was 23. I lost all sense of independence which was very frustrating. I gained a lot of that independence back when I received my first Leader Dog in 2008. This was a major life change and it pointed my outlook on life in the right direction. My life is now better because of Leader Dogs for the Blind.
Knowing that Leader Dogs for the Blind was founded by a service organization called Lions Clubs, I knew I wanted to be involved. Becoming a Lion and being a part of an organization that focuses on the blind and visually impaired, as well as many other community projects on a local, State and International level we learn how good it is to serve those in need. Those experiences helped me become a better person and changed my life entirely.
Many of those personal life changes allowed me to find that special someone, get married and have a family. Because of this I moved to Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I grew up around dairy farming and rarely had the opportunity to be able to do something like being on the water. By having my new family and now living next to such a beautiful scene such as Lake Michigan, I knew I wanted to take advantage of this. I went sailing for the first time a while ago and really enjoyed the experience. The first thing which came to mind was how would I ever be able to do something like this, therefore I let that desire wash away.
I went sailing again because I heard about the World Championship of Blind Match Sailing and realized that sailing for someone like me is possible. I took a lesson on how to sail and it was very overwhelming at first. After working with my instructor, we broke the training down into very small pieces of information. Once we got out of the harbor and onto the lake, the first thing we talked about was how do I learn. With discussion going back and forth we discovered I needed to just start sailing and ask questions as we went along. I was very nervous at first, but thanks to the instructor’s calming attitude, I began to feel comfortable pretty quickly.
After a few tips on a very basic level, we learned we should start with sound. When I heard the main sail start to flutter, I knew to pull the tiller towards me a little to maintain a straight line. Quickly I began to understand the wind and was reacting to the sail as soon as it happened. Eventually I was able to hear the jib flutter, before the main sail, which allowed me to anticipate the movement. By just managing these couple sounds my instructor went silent and allowed me to sail by myself.
In no time at all, I was driving something, a sailboat, all by myself for the first time in 12 years! I felt like I had another chapter of independence, one which I thought I would never have again. I was so inspired, I felt in charge and I thought to myself, “Why not me?”
Hearing about the International blind sailors coming to Sheboygan, I knew I could do this, too. With this inspiration, and I am pleased to say I am receiving sailing lessons and hope to someday be like those sailors who do not see themselves as impaired, rather they all say, “Why not me?”.
Two years ago, the Reading Action Program began. This program is a 10-year commitment to increase reading and literacy rates all over the world. Today, Lions have served over 17.5 million people through projects such as book donations, early reading intervention programs and more. In celebration of International Literacy Day, we are encouraging Lions to promote literacy during the month of September, as well as throughout the year.
Some project ideas your club can consider include:
You can even turn your Reading Action Program initiative into a Centennial Service Challenge project by engaging a Leo club or other youth in your community. Help reach our goal of serving 100 million people by 2017, and don’t forget to report your activity on MyLCI. Share your service activity on Facebook and other social media sites with the hashtag #LIONS100 so other clubs can see how you’re making an impact.
How is your club promoting literacy in your community?
In the September LION Magazine, learn about an exceptional Leo club in Massachusetts, find out how Lions are helping those affected by the Sandy Hook shooting, and read the variety of responses Lions gave to the question, “Who was Melvin Jones?”
Also in this issue:
Visit the LION Magazine page to contact editors, view past issues and listen to the audio version of the magazine.
Two weeks ago, Joni and I visited Ceara, Brazil, where the Lions are living up to our motto “we serve.” There, I promoted the Pride of being a Lion at the opening of the Council of Governors meeting, met with Lion Leaders, Club Presidents and Leos, and dumped a bucket of ice water over my head. Yes, I said it –ice water.
It was in Fortaleza, Brazil that I participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This challenge has been spreading awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease as well as helping gain support in the race to find a cure. You can see the video I posted taking the challenge on the Lions Clubs International Youtube Channel.
We Lions have our own challenge –the Centennial Service Challenge, in which Lions around the world are working toward serving 100 million people by 2017. I was fortunate to join the Lions of Brazil in protecting our environment by planting trees and the Leos of Brazil are doing their part by focusing their time to feeding the homeless. Report your service activities on MyLCI and encourage others to participate.
Lions, are you up for the challenge?
Your International President,
Be sure to follow me on Facebook to see more activities, projects and pictures from my trips around the world.
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