In an Indiana town two sisters who are Amish and blind have become Leos. They’ve found new friends, discovered the joy of service and altogether expanded their sense of who they are and what they can accomplish in life. (See story on page 38). So it goes with Lions and youths. Whether it’s in Indiana, India or in your community, Lions steer the energy and enthusiasm of youths toward service and success. One of my goals this year was to engage young people in service and fellowship as well as help grow them into potential Lions. Lions clubs have had a lot of success here. Lions Quest has expanded into four additional nations and soon will be started in two others. The Lions International Youth Camp and Exchange Program is flourishing: Lions lead 123 camps in 40 nations. The Leo program is as popular as ever: there are nearly 145,000 Leos and we’ve rebranded the program to make it even more appealing. Youths love to compete and test their talents. Hence, we created the Global Youth Music Competition. At the convention in Sydney Lions will be thrilled at the high level of skill and intensity as the finalists compete for the top prize. As an international association, the future is now regarding youths. Half of the billion people in India are younger than 25. The percentage of young people is also high in China and in Africa, places besides India where our membership is growing impressively. We must continue to grow Leos and grow Lions among younger people. They bring fresh ideas, boundless energy and hearts full of good will toward others. To quote a younger Lion who was a Leo: we older Lions must “MOVE TO GROW younger.” We know that connecting with young people early on builds a bond not easily broken. Study after study shows young people engaged in community service carry that passion into adulthood. It’s analogous to the old saying about teaching a man to fish instead of giving him a fish. We must teach young people the value of service instead of merely looking for ways to make them happy in the moment. Lions always will reach out to disadvantaged youths and youths in crisis after disasters. But we also must be eager to encourage a service mentality in youths able to contribute to the community. Move to Grow can inspire Lions of all ages to progress in service. Youths especially move forward and grow when Lions take them under their wing and point them in the right direction. We are a great association that will prosper for decades to come. Yet we can reach our full potential by tapping into the potential of youths now. Leos have fun at a recent international convention. Eberhard J. Wirfs Lions Clubs International President
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