Schoolchildren in Nepal at a Lions Quest school work on an assignment. LION JUNERIA BERGES ONCE SERVED AS PRINCIPAL OF GRAPEVINE MIDDLE SCHOOL IN SUBURBAN DALLAS-FORT WORTH. HER SCHOOL IMPLEMENTED LIONS QUEST, A SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING PROGRAM. In one Lions Quest exercise, intended to build community, students sat in a circle and took part in a directed dialogue. The class eventually created its own conduct expectations in the classroom, with all students agreeing to the rules they set up. Lions Quest changed the school. Attendance rose, and students developed their critical thinking skills. “It [Lions Quest] just works,” says Berges. “The students start correcting each other. It’s something they came up with, so they own it.” LCIF has backed Lions Quest for 32 years, providing grants totaling more than $20 million. The curriculum involves strategies for youth to avoid taking drugs, to respect their peers and to live healthy productive lives. It also has classroom strategies to bolster classroom management and achievement. LCIF gave its first grant supporting Lions Quest, then operated by a separate organization, in 1984. By 2002, LCIF had taken ownership of the program. The program has grown year after year. Lions Quest has been taught in more than 90 countries, with the curriculum translated into 40 languages. Lions in and near Roanoke, Virginia, a city of 97,000, recently adopted Lions Quest for local schools. “We’re in a depressed area, and there are a lot of kids who need help,” said Doug Adams, a member of the Vinton Lions Breakfast Club who led the Lions Quest initiative. Lions raised about $2,700 for each daylong training session for school personnel and $150 for curricula for each grade level. Thirty-eight elementary school counselors from Roanoke city and the surrounding county were trained initially. Another 21 including some middle-school teachers were trained in August. “We’ve found that the schools will listen to Lions, and that breaks the ice,” says Adams. “We’re encouraging our members to take the ball and run with it.” Today a retired principal, Berges now promotes Lions Quest as a Lion in District 2 E2 in Texas. In 2015, after Lions raised $35,000, she helped secure a $75,000 Core 4 grant from LCIF for more Lions Quest programs in suburban schools. In January and February of 2016, the Lions trained 46 behavioral specialists in Joshua to carry out the Lions Quest program. By August 2016, the Lake Worth district in suburban Dallas trained 262 teachers. Convinced of the value of Lions Quest, Lions had raised enough to pay for teacher training, curriculum kits at $150 for each classroom and food for the training day. “Lions Quest teaches ethics, caring about others and responsibility for oneself,” says Berges. “The kids learn that they have choices in life, and you have to make the best choice for yourself.”
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