Belize host 3rd annual Latin and Central America Lions Quest Conference in San Pedro Town
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
Representatives involved in the Lions Quest Program from several Latin and Central American countries are meeting on Ambergris Caye for their annual event. The third Annual Latin America and the Caribbean Lions Quest Conference which is a two-day event is being hosted by the Belize Lion Zone 59 at the Sunbreeze Conference Room in San Pedro Town. The purpose of the event is for the representative of each country to report on the progress of the program in their respective countries, discuss some of the challenges and share ideas that can help overcome the challenges.
The Lions Quest, a school based life skills program, is being taught in about 70 primary and secondary schools across Belize following a pilot project launched in 2005. Internationally, the program is run by the Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) and in Belize the program is financed by the local clubs. According to the Belize Country Director for the Lions Quest Program, Robert “Bobby” Lopez, the two days of event which includes a field trip will help the delegation to see and understand how a well supportive program by all stakeholders has an impact at both the school and community levels. “We each give our report, look at some of the challenges, share ideas and see how we can overcome some of the challenges. We hope that we can set goals and go over strategic plans both individually as a country as well as collectively,” said Lopez.
Several of the representatives went in length to explain that two of the main challenges affecting the progress of the program are the lack of political will to have the program fully implemented in the school system and the way the new administration views policies by previous administrations in their respective countries at both the local and national level. Speaking of those challenges Lopez explained that “It seems that we all have those similar challenges… when there is a change of government it takes a little while for the new administration to know the program. I must say that we haven’t had that much difficulty with that here in Belize. The Ministry of Education (MoE) has really embraced it (Lions Quest Program) and they see the program as one of the solution in helping our young people make good decision and to come out of that life of crime and delinquency. The MoE has been so supportive that our Lions Quest Trainer is a full time worker for the ministry but assigned to the Lions Quest Program to keep those school active and keep them growing.”
Belize is one of 72 countries that has the program ongoing since 2005 with support from LCIF and the four active clubs in the country. According to the LCIF representative with the International Lions Quest Program, Jennifer Mallman, schools that are involved in the Lions Quest program in Belize have seen a behavioral change and when compared to other countries, Belize is doing well. “We are very happy with the work that Belize has done and we are especially proud of the work that the Lions have done because they have worked so hard in getting the Lions Quest Program in so many different schools. We are also proud that the Ministry of Education has been such a great supporter of the program and that the trainer that we have in Belize is a part of the MoE. We are sure that the program will strengthen and grow in the next few years. Compared to other countries Belize is doing very well,” said Mallman who added that Belize is the only country in the region that has the full support of the government.
In Belize, the Lions Quest Program is supervised by the Ministry of Education through the Quality Assurance Development Services Unit (QUADS). The delegation of about 20 from Argentina, Bolivia, Columbia, Panama, Guatemala, Mexico and Belize got to visit the Caye Caulker Roman Catholic Primary School to see how the program has been running in the module school for the past 8 years. The primary school is highly regarded by Lions Club International Foundation for its high level of discipline and respect that students display for each other and as such, the school is being selected this year to film an International promotional documentary featuring the success of the Lions Quest Program at the school and in Belize. The conference ends on Tuesday October 23rd.