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Sister Schools

Lions in Hong Kong help special education students and traditional students find common ground.

Lions in Hong Kong help special education students and traditional students find common ground.

Sister Schools

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Touchstone Story #50

For Lions in District 303 in Hong Kong and Macau, China, fulfilling one of the purposes of Lions Clubs International—to create and foster a spirit of understanding among the peoples of the world—starts in the school yard. Through the Lions Sister Schools Scheme, Lions are helping students with and without disabilities to build relationships, learn from one another and have fun.

Launched in 1981 with the education department in Hong Kong, the program matches special education schools with traditional schools to encourage understanding among students and give children with disabilities more opportunities to interact with their peers. Lions provide financial assistance and organize activities for the paired schools.

By 1995, 50 out of 72 schools in the area serving children with disabilities—such as vision impairment, hearing impairment and learning or physical disabilities—were participating in the program. At the Lutheran School for the Deaf in Hong Kong, student volunteers from five local schools participated in arts and crafts, played sports and worked on speaking skills with its students—who in turn helped their peers who can hear learn to communicate with them.

“I learn more from them about overcoming obstacles than they from me,” said Josephine Tsang Ching-yu, a student who participated in the program in the mid-1990s.

As the relationships continued, administrators at the Lutheran School for the Deaf noticed its students becoming more confident and less reserved. Parents noticed similar changes at home. “Their student helpers treat them like brothers and sisters,” said administrator Theresa Fong Yuk-ying.

Participation levels have remained high over time as Lions and Leo clubs continued to sponsor the program and organize activities including hand painting, gardening and other exercises that encourage creativity, responsibility and care for the environment. The goal is always the same: to create awareness and build understanding.

At the 2013 Lions Clubs International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, District 303 received International President Wayne Madden’s World of Service Award. At the awards ceremony, which recognized Lions who exemplified the association’s commitment service in different categories, the Lions Sister Schools Scheme was named Best Youth Engagement Project.

Finger painting

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