THE LIONS CHANGED MY LIFE An Unforgettable Adventure As she departed her home in Ontario, Canada, for Norway last summer, 22- year-old Kaitlin Clark was a jumble of excitement and nerves. As one of three disabled recipients of a Lions International Youth Camp and Exchange opportunity from District A-2 Lions in Ontario, Clark knew she was in for something big. Each year, 109 camps in 41 countries offer exceptional experiences for youth ages 16 to 22 from around the world that include handson cultural education, outdoor activities and fellowship with new friends. When Immediate Past District Governor Joyce Harvey noticed a lack of disabled youth taking part in the program, she led efforts to reach out more to young people like Clark, who is deaf and has cerebral palsy. The result was a life-changing experience that Clark, an aspiring documentary filmmaker, will never forget, and one that her father, Dana Clark, appreciates just as much. Q & A:Kaitlin and Dana Clark Lion Magazine: Dana, how did you feel about Kaitlin going to camp so far away? Dana Clark: I was a bit nervous at first but after meeting the Lions who were organizing the trip I realized that Kaitlin was going to be well looked after. I encourage Kaitlin to be as independent as possible, so I didn’t feel I should go with her. Because she’s deaf my main concern was communication; that issue was solved by the Lions sending an interpreter along with Kaitlin. LM: Kaitlin, what were your favorite things about the camp? Kaitlin Clark: I loved horseback riding and dog sledding. One of my favorite memories was driving in the bus on a sightseeing trip and seeing a moose on the side of the road. Also, it was so interesting to learn how people with disabilities live in different parts of the world. But probably the best part of the trip was that at camp we all felt like we were just like everyone else and we weren’t treated like we were disabled. LM: Dana, how do you think this experience affected Kaitlin? DC: This was an incredible, oncein- a-lifetime opportunity for Kaitlin. The chance to travel and meet people from all over the world who have similar dayto- day struggles was a very enlightening experience for her. I think the opportunity for any young person to broaden their horizons by traveling can only be positive. For a young person with a disability, I believe the benefits can be even greater. The sense of independence and acceptance offered through the Lions Youth Camp unfortunately are not always found in their daily lives. LM: Kaitlin, do you have the travel bug now? KC: I love to travel. I would love to go to Norway again because it’s a beautiful country and I made some wonderful friends, but I would welcome the chance to visit any other country. DC: I operate a small charity that collects, refurbishes and distributes wheelchairs and other mobility devices primarily for Peru. On my next trip to Peru, Kaitlin will join me. She plans to film a short documentary about the lives of deaf people there. Lions: have you heard from a beneficiary or a recipient of your kindness, service or charity? Tell us about the feedback you receive from those whose lives you’ve changed for the better. E-mail a brief description of your correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “Thanks and Appreciation” in the subject line.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Thank+You/1010036/105015/article.html.