© 2013 Lions Clubs New Zealand
In a World of Service
Wayne A Madden, International President
My theme for this year - “In A World of Service” - calls on Lions to not only celebrate our world of service but to expand our impact, rising up to meet new challenges. It all starts with dedication to service.
Lions are dedicated to providing service. That renowned dedication will help us in everything we do – including our continued participation in the Global Service Action Campaigns of engaging youth (August), working with the blind and visually impaired (October), feeding the hungry (December and January) and working to improve the environment (April) to protecting 150 million children from measles in our new partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Reading Action Programme
In addition, I am asking Lions to participate in a year-long initiative called the Reading Action Programme – a campaign to improve literacy rates and promote reading. Education is the key to unlocking human potential. The acquisition of skills and knowledge enables people to overcome poverty, disease and other social ills. It empowers communities and gives individuals the confidence needed to shape their own future.
The volunteer sector plays an important role in providing education – viewed by many experts including the United Nations – as one of the root causes of the cycle of poverty.
As a former educator, married to a career teacher, I place a high value on education and I consider the ability to read as the foundation to an education. It is a gift Lions can give to children and adults around the world.
If you can read this sentence, then you are not only literate, you are considered highly literate. The basic definition of literacy worldwide is the ability to write your name, and read at a 10-year-old level. Yet even using that basic definition, nearly one billion people worldwide are illiterate. That’s 26 percent of the world’s adult population, or one out of four people of reading age.
Illiteracy isn’t a challenge just for developing regions. Even in the United States where I am from, one in seven persons can barely read a billboard sign or a recipe, which makes them functionally illiterate. Twenty-one million in my own country can’t read at all.
To reverse the situation we need to reach more children at risk. According to the Gates Foundation, children develop the skills they need to succeed in school and life, during their first five years. Many children lack basic language and behavioural skills — such as knowing letters and colours, following directions, getting along with others, and exhibiting impulse control.
Unfortunately, when children start behind, they often stay behind, leading to an achievement gap in elementary school and beyond.
“The more you read, the more things you’ll know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Dr Seuss, author of children’s books