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Education for Everyone

“L” is for Leon! Teacher Erica Leguizamon instructs a group of students at a school sponsored by the Mendoza Tunuyán Lions Club in Argentina.

“L” is for Leon! Teacher Erica Leguizamon instructs a group of students at a school sponsored by the Mendoza Tunuyán Lions Club in Argentina.

Education for Everyone

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Touchstone Story #51

Mendoza is a cultural center of northern Argentina, a city nestled near the Andes Mountains. Known for its wineries, it’s a popular South American tourist destination.

Just 80 kilometers outside of the city is a small school that offers classroom instruction and individual attention to students who have vision or hearing impairment or other disabilities. Supported by the Mendoza Tunuyán Lions Club since its inception, the school began in 1994 as a single room with only four students.

“The Lions are very important to our school,” said school director Laura Cebrelli. “They supported us from the day we started. Lions Clubs International Foundation provided a grant to help us expand our building.”

The school now provides individualized attention for 75 students, thanks to expansion efforts. The Mendoza Tunuyán Lions Club continues to provide financial support, teaching materials and up-to-date technology for the school.

Lions clubs have long provided support to help ensure that students who have disabilities get a great education. In 1963, the Oregon State School for the Blind in Salem was overseen by Superintendent Charles Woodcock and Principal Raymond Rowe, both of them Lions, and both committed to providing their students with individualized attention. Members of the Salem Lions Club donated playground equipment and a new school bus, and offered general assistance to the school staff. Education meant more than just scholarship. It was also about teaching self-reliance, self-esteem and independence.

“Varied experiences are the basis for suitable development of children, whether the goals be education, vocation or social relationships,” Rowe said.

In 1985, Lions clubs of Southern California worked to support the Braille Institute of Los Angeles, teaching vocational skills to adults with vision impairments. Lions donated camping equipment and sponsored field trips and athletic competitions for students at the Braille Institute—events that fostered a positive social environment and helped the students cultivate positive self-esteem.

Natividad Dias, the mother of a student at the Mendoza school, said the support from the Mendoza Tunuyán Lions Club was gratifying for parents. “The best thing the school has taught my daughter is self-esteem,” she said.

“Recognizing what kind of student you have and how best to teach them is a challenge,” said Mendoza teacher Erica Leguizamon. “But I love exploring which tools and strategies will help my students learn as individuals and as a group.”

Individualized attention—and teaching students to be independent—helps the Mendoza school prepare its students for adulthood.

“I’ve not only learned to read and write, but I’ve learned to dream,” said Mendoza student Rodrigo Morani. “This school has helped me become a better and more confident person.”

Students enjoy a day at school in Mendoza, Argentina, with the support of the Mendoza Tunuyán Lions Club.

Students enjoy a day at school in Mendoza, Argentina, with the support of the Mendoza Tunuyán Lions Club.

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