Lions Quest Promotes Dignity for NYC Students All children deserve dignity—especially those in the heart of Brooklyn. Only 30 percent of public school students there meet academic standards, according to recent state assessments. So when officials at P.S. 233 Langston Hughes decided they wanted to better serve students’ emotional needs by improving behavior and reducing suspensions, Lions knew just how to help. Lions and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) have long promoted social and emotional learning through Lions Quest, a comprehensive youth development program that promotes character education, bullying prevention, drug awareness and service learning. After the state of New York enacted the Dignity for All Students Act, seeking to provide students with a supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation and bullying, Lions Quest was deemed a good fit for the state and for P.S. 233. In addition to the introduction of Lions Quest, Lions also observe classes at P.S. 233 to identify and address the unique needs of that school. Because all schools in New York are required to provide K-12 instruction in character education, civility and citizenship, Lions statewide are involved in sharing Lions Quest’s value and the need for it in their schools. New York Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci has seen the value of Lions Quest in his district on Long Island. “The support and lessons learned through the Lions Quest initiative ensure the long-term success of our schools, and most importantly, our students,” says Lupinacci. “I want to thank the Lions Club and its members for their support, which is critical to providing teachers with the resources necessary to help their students thrive.” As with all Lions Quest programs, local Lions are an integral piece of the puzzle. Throughout the state, Lions are expanding the partnership with their local schools, forging new relationships with people in their communities and raising awareness of what it means to be a Lion. Lion Ralph Gonzalez has seen the program benefit not only students but also Lions as well. “Bringing Lions Quest to New York City has really energized our Lions,” explains Gonzalez. “Lions are now bringing vision screenings into schools. The Laurelton Lions Club awards annual scholarships and even hosts student talent shows.” The Queens Pride Lions Club and District 20 K-1 secured the first Lions Quest grant to bring teacher training to New York. Previously, Lions Quest was only in two schools in New York, one upstate and one in Long Island. Lions Quest is now in 11 schools in New York City. At the request of the New York Department of Education, Lions are active in every phase of Lions Quest programming. With the support of local Lions, Lions Quest is expanding at an incredible pace in New York City. The success of Lions Quest relies on the Lions who champion the program in their own communities. To find out how your club can bring Lions Quest to your local schools, visit lions-quest.org. Field of Dreams Built for Those with Disabilities Chris Branan played Little League baseball as a child and later coached a Little League team. His 10-year-old son, Jake, loves baseball and plays as well. Like father, like son? Well, not exactly. But well more than close enough. Jakes uses a wheelchair. He didn’t play organized baseball until Lions helped build City Pond Park in Covington, Georgia. The park is designed for players with physical and mental disabilities. The game is a little different from a standard Little League game, but the feelings of pride and satisfaction for players and parents are the same. With the new field, Branan feels like he and his son are carrying on a family tradition. “This is a dream come true,” says Branan. Making dreams come true is the stock-in-trade of the Miracle League. Founded in 1997 in Georgia, the Miracle League has pioneered baseball for youths with disabilities. The game is played on an adapted, accessible field. Community members serve as “buddies” to assist the players. Every player bats once each inning, reaches every base safely and scores a run before the inning is over. And every team and every player wins every game. The Lions of District 18-I were awarded a US$75,000 Standard Grant from LCIF to assist with the construction of the Miracle League Field at City Pond Park. Lions have been actively involved in many aspects of the project, from fundraising to marketing, and have even supplied professional labor and construction materials. The park officially opened in April with 100 players on eight teams. Before the field at City Pond Park, the nearest Miracle League was in a neighboring county. That’s where Morgan, a 6-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy type II, was forced to play for two years. The drive was worth it. His older siblings played sports, and he felt left out on the sidelines. Morgan now plays for the Phillies, and his family cheers him on in his hometown. “Having a Miracle League field so close to home means we have a place to call our own and makes baseball more accessible to local kids,” says Tangi Forman, his mother. Lions supported the field because they know that sports play a significant role in the development of children. They teach motor skills, teamwork and sportsmanship and can help lay the groundwork for a healthy life. And aside from that, playing sports is a heap of fun. Mickie Bradley and her son, Taylor, are also thrilled that Miracle League has come to Newton County. Taylor had played with the Miracle League in nearby Conyers for 12 years, and his family has seen his confidence build immensely. Watching Taylor play is a great experience for his family and friends. “How you view the simple things in life will be forever changed after you witness these athletes with the biggest smiles and squeals of laughter from hitting that ball and hearing everyone cheer for them,” says Bradley. With the help of local Lions and LCIF, no one in Newton County is left out of the great American pastime. Play ball!
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