Lions Quest Expands In Eastern Europe Students of all ages face the same challenges that are echoed around the world: bullying, peer pressure, substance abuse and other detrimental behaviors. However, there is a solution that Lions have provided: Lions Quest, a life skills program from Lions Clubs International Foundation that offers a whole-school approach to the social and emotional well-being of youth. The benefits of Lions Quest are numerous. Yet to properly impact students, training is needed. That is why the Lions Quest Bulgaria Foundation hosted the 2013 Lions Quest European Meeting in January. This annual gathering shares knowledge and best practices of Lions Quest. Representatives from 18 European countries attended. Past District Governor Petar Malamov, chairperson of the Lions Quest Bulgaria Foundation, has championed Lions Quest since 2010, building a strong partnership between Bulgarian Lions and the Ministry of Education. By the end of April 2013, Lions Quest teacher-training workshops will have been conducted in eight cities across Bulgaria. The growth of Lions Quest also continues in Turkey. What began as a small club project in Istanbul has expanded into a program with growing national support. During the first year, Turkish Lions coordinated the training of 200 teachers through eight workshops. The program has impacted an estimated 100,000 children. “When a child is confident enough, then he or she can be successful in other social development. Emotional development and mental skills come together. The children who have Lions Quest training are happy children,” says Sima Sunder, a Lions Quest training coordinator and member of the Mavi Halic Lions Club. “The teachers are doing their normal curriculum work in better conditions because they have very little problems in the classroom.” An evaluation of the program in Turkey completed by the Bosphorus University Peace Education Application and Research Centre confirms Sunder’s observations: it found that Lions Quest fosters a peaceful classroom environment and results in positive decision-making. Macedonia (FYROM) is the newest country to have a Lions Quest presence. In December 2012, the first workshop trained 36 teachers on program implementation for grades nine through 12, with plans for growth to more grade levels. Lions Quest will strengthen the school’s service-learning program, which currently has all students complete at least 10 hours of community service annually. This recent expansion of Lions Quest builds upon past LCIF grants. In 2002, the U.S. State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement partnered with LCIF to promote and expand Lions Quest in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. In many countries, the program has taken root. The Lions of Lithuania received more than $500,000 to expand the program nationwide. In 2012, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) partnered with LCIF to combine the Lions Quest program with the UNODC’s existing familybased life skills work in Central Asia and Southeastern Europe, initially piloted through Serbia and Montenegro. And LCIF has approved a grant to expand the program to Slovenia as well. With the 59th annual Europa Forum being held this fall in Turkey, Lions will have the opportunity to present their success with Lions Quest, showing how this program has impacted more than 12 million students worldwide.
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