AUSTRIA Caring for Animals Improves Children City students with behavioral problems are learning to take care of themselves and make better decisions by taking care of horses. In Vienna, the Wien (Vienna) Johann Strauss Lions Club supports the Horse Wilderness Project, in which troubled youths clean stables, groom horses and feed their charges. About 150 children have participated. Most have shown improvement in relationships at school and in academic achievement. Their progress has been so noteworthy that a college of education in Zurich, Switzerland, sent 40 students there to observe the program. The stables are located at the Lobau, an area of dense scrub and woodlands. A school counselor with a degree in therapeutic/special education runs the program. TURKEY Blind, Sighted Students Bond Over a Book A classic children’s book and its famous author helped bridge the gap between students at a school for the blind and students at a secondary school. The day of friendship, literacy and learning also was made possible by Lions, a Lion-led foundation for the blind and industrious parents who logged long hours creating an audio version of the book. Students from Private Evrim School and Veysel School for the Blind, both in Istanbul, spent an upbeat day getting to know one another, chatting about common interests and then trading insights on “Fadis,” which the former read and the latter listened to, thanks to a CD recorded by parents of the secondary school students. They also discussed the book with its author, Gülten Dayioğlu. Students from both schools gained from the social interaction with one another. “For the Private Evrim students it was their first encounter with blind children of their own age. They saw that seeing is not everything in life—you have other senses. They learned to accept and respect diversity,” says International Director Oya Sebük, involved in the project. “The blind students were very excited by the visit of the [sighted] students. They were in some way honored to be approached in such a friendly way.” Sebük, president of the Six Dots Foundation, arranged for “Fadis” to be recorded at the foundation’s recording library. Istanbul Ulus Lions established the library in honor of charter member Perihan E. Minkari, Sebük’s late mother. Lale Dorusk of the Istanbul Ulus Club, an English teacher at Private Evrim, initiated the RAP (Reading Action Program) project both to promote literacy and to break down barriers that separate the blind and sighted peers. Her partner in the project was Hatice Celik, a blind teacher at Veysel Vardal. “Fadis” is about the turbulent home life of a girl. Students from both schools had the same urgent question for Dayioğlu: why her book had no resolution. The writer was unfazed: why don’t you write one? So students individually at both schools are writing a resolution to the book, and Dayioğlu will select a winner. Meanwhile, the author, inspired by her day with the Veysel Vardal students, is writing her next book on a high-achieving blind child. SWITZERLAND Lions Make the Forest More Adventurous Winterthur is the sixth-largest city in Switzerland with a population of 100,000, but no city in this nation has more woodland. Forty percent of its land is forest. Residents hike the city’s many paths of dirt, gravel and wood chips that wind through the trees. Enhancing one of the city’s chief attractions, the four Lions clubs and Leo club of Winterthur built an adventure path with 10 activity posts near the town center. The clubs undertook the labor-intensive project in conjunction with the celebration of the 750-year anniversary of the city. The four Lions clubs, which have 154 members, and the Leos worked Saturdays to complete the project. The posts revolve around exercise, contemplation or relaxation. One has a tightrope. Another has a forest “bed,” a sloped wooden structure shaped like a bed. Other posts include sound boxes with mallets, a jumping area in which one’s jump can be compared to the leaps of various animals and a shelter with a plaque that briefly explains who Lions are. “Overall, it was a successful project that brought our clubs closer together and allowed each club to work at its own speed,” says Daniel Sidler, 2013-14 president of the Winterthur Lions Club. AUSTRALIA Hope Springs from Grief Glen Hurst lost his father to diabetes and his mother is a diabetic. So he attached a boat to his Harley and sped off on a 15,000-mile, 80-day trip around Australia to raise funds for diabetes research. After wearing out three sets of tires, visiting 230 Lions clubs and attending 168 sausage sizzles, he triumphantly rode his bike straight inside a district convention hall where Lions applauded wildly. Hurst succeeded in raising $50,000 (US$44,000) and elevated awareness of the disease and Lions thanks to the Lions logos and diabetes signs on the bike and boat. “The ride itself was not bad. Long rides can be challenging, but the bikes are extremely comfortable,” says Hurst, a computer technician specializing in solar energy. Hurst knew the motorcycle-boat combination would draw attention. After his brother died, he drove a Gold Wing motorcycle, his brother’s favorite bike, to tow a boat to deliver his remains home. (His brother was cremated. His remains were stored in the motorcycle, and the boat was filled with camping gear.) Hurst’s journey drew lots of stares and inquiries. Hurst’s diabetes ride was to take 60 days. Then it expanded to 79 days as more Lions clubs became interested. He added one more day to parallel the movie “Around the World in 80 Days.” Hurst’s Albany Lions Club sponsored the Hope in a Boat ride, and hundreds of clubs helped raised funds or provided accommodations. Accompanying him on the ride were three Lions: his wife, Marina Rurenga, and mates Guy Cook and Raymond Cowcill. The featured speaker at each club he visited, Hurst became polished and self-assured. One club he visited happened to be also hosting a speaking contest. “No pressure, right? But they told me if they were scoring me I would have won,” says Hurst. IRELAND Food Drive in Ireland Makes Spirits Bright Grocery shoppers who forgot their list need not have worried: Lions were on hand to pass one out. Lions stationed themselves in Tesco stores on two days in December to appeal to shoppers to buy non-perishables such as breakfast cereals, tea bags and tinned goods for those in need. The holiday collaboration between Irish Lions and Tesco Ireland was hugely successful. Lions and Tesco volunteers collected over 200,000 euros (US$236,000) worth of food for families in need during the in-store Christmas Food Appeal. The collection in 148 stores amounted to 95,000 meals’ worth of food. Tesco topped up the donations by 30 percent. Lions in Ireland have held the food drive since the 1980s. “Our partnership with Tesco had been most welcome and has enabled us to fulfill our commitment to those in need,” says Lion Joe Smith, food drive coordinator. Adds Christine Heffernan, the Corporate Affairs director at Tesco Ireland, “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity and goodwill shown by our customers, not to mention the huge efforts made by all Lions Club and Tesco volunteers.” Read more at lionmagazine.org. • “If Alice hadn’t gone to camp, I don’t know where we’d be right now,” a mother told the LION in April 1989. Read more about diabetes camps at lionmagazine.org. • Lions in Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania and elsewhere deter diabetes. (April 2010 LION). Learn more at lionmagazine.org.
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