Youth – Challenging tomorrow today.... Lions are committed to supporting and encouraging young....
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Youth – Challenging tomorrow today....

Lions International logoLions are committed to supporting and encouraging young people to learn, to achieve and to grow. Youth projects are organised by clubs both locally and internationally.

At the international level, the influence of Lions can touch thousands of people, at a local level the needs are often immediate and personal but equally important.

One of these projects is known as the Young Ambassador award. It aims to acknowledge today's young 'ambassadors' working as volunteers and gives them the recognition they deserve. The award helps to boost their self esteem and con fi dence whilst highlighting the charities and volunteer groups with which they are involved.

Candidates need to be aged between 15 and 18 years in age.

I am delighted to be able to say that this year, we have a winning candidate.

15 year old Fiona has cerebral palsy. A disorder that can involve brain and nervous system functions such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking. Three years ago she felt she had little to offer any one and certainly not in a sporting context. However she has since learnt that, in the right environment she excels at a number of sports.

Fiona now competes in National Boccia competitions and DSE National Athletics Championships. She has trained as a sports leader and now coaches young disabled athletes aged between 5 and 7 years old – some of whom are being watched closely by the GB Paralympics coaches.

Fiona competed against 13 other 'young ambassadors' from all over the UK. She was the youngest entrant but this certainly didn't hold her back.

When Fiona speaks, people are spellbound, both at her content and soft, gentle yet enthusiastic manner. Indeed, Fiona made such a lasting impression that she was rewarded with the 'Ship Shape' award.

THE SHIPSHAPE AWARD, sponsored by the Jubilee Sailing Trust is awarded to a candidate who demonstrates a particularly strong personal commitment and enthusiasm for their community work but who, in the opinion of the judges, would benefit from the opportunity to develop their con fi dence and their leadership skills.

JST is a registered charity that owns and operates Lord Nelson and Tenacious. Founded in 1978 off the back of a grant from the Queen's Silver Jubilee Fund, the JST owns and operates the only two tall ships in the world that have special features that enable able-bodied and disabled people to sail the ship together as equals. Tall ship sailing with the JST provides everyone the thrill and adventure of life at sea.

The award this year offers a greater opportunity than ever before.

Just 4 days before the Young Ambassador fi nals took place at Dudley this year, the Trustees and Vice President of JST made the announcement that the tall ship Lord Nelson will leave the UK in October 2012 to sail around the world.

Founder Christopher Rudd said in his announcement speech "We all know who the heroes of the JST have been over the years: those with disabilities who have put the Trust's ideals to the test...afloat, at sea, on board Lord Nelson and Tenacious. It is to these courageous characters that we give thanks tonight. Let's drink a toast to all our shipmates, especially those who have defied disabilities to challenge the elements aboard our very special and magnificent tall ships".

Lord Nelson was designed and built to be sailed by able-bodied and physically disabled people including wheelchair users, as part of a full working crew. This will be the first time that an accessible square-rigged sailing ship with a mixed physical ability working crew has undertaken a circumnavigation.

The 21 month world voyage, which JST are calling 'Sail the World', will incorporate four Equator crossings, 7 continents, 30 countries and 45,000 sea miles and is the most ambitious project the charity has yet undertaken.

The purpose of Sail the World is to give people of all physical abilities the chance to undertake adventurous ocean passages under sail. It is planned that wheelchair users will be part of the working crew for each of the 10 passages, the longest of which is 58 days and 5,800 sea miles from New Zealand to Ushuaia including rounding Cape Horn. Square-rigged sailing ships have been rounding that historic rock for centuries but this will be the fi rst accessible tall ship with a mixed ability crew to do so.

Sail the World also aims to introduce other nations to the experience of accessible sailing on a tall ship, which for many people can be a life-changing discovery of abilities they didn't know they had. Ports of call around the world have expressed a strong interest in chartering the ship for a few days, between the long passages, in order to enable their own nationals with disabilities to sail who otherwise would not get the chance. The JST hopes that people from these countries will also want to join the ship on the longer adventurous passages across the oceans of the world.

The JST ships are recognised world-wide as being unique and already there is great excitement around the globe about giving Lord Nelson a warm welcome wherever she goes.

Disabled sailor and JST Trustee Niall Tarrell said "I have been a wheelchair user since the age of twenty-one and sailing on Lord Nelson opened up a sense of achievement and opportunity that I had rarely felt before. Taking this message to the rest of the world and giving disabled South Africans, Australians, Asians and South Americans a chance to share this experience we believe will inspire people around the world".

The ship will leave in October 2012 from Southampton. Sail the World's first destination will be Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Other ports of call include Cape Town, Singapore, Sydney and Auckland. The grand home coming will be in July 2014 after visiting Iceland.

After Fiona had been awarded this coveted prize, I was approached by the CEO of JST who said he was so impressed with Fiona that would love to give her the opportunity of taking part in one of the Sail the World legs.

Fiona now needs to decide which leg of the tour she wants to take part in so that the amount of funds required to cover her travel can be calculated.

Fiona has already been awarded a £500.00 donation from JST towards the cost of her experience but the remainder of the funds need to raised to offer her this life changing opportunity. Lions around the area are already committed to finding ways of supporting this wonderful, worthy young lady but I am hoping that she has touched the hearts of some of you reading this article too.

A Just Giving link has been created on our website www.ebelions.org.uk. Any money you pledge here will help support Fiona – if you can spare a pound then please do consider her as a worthy beneficiary.

I make no apology for feeling so passionate about this competition having metyoungsters like Fiona and so many like her, I know there are far more good young people than the small minority of bad we read about in the press.

Our next informal information evening is taking place on Wednesday 4th April at Eaton Bray village hall from 7.30pm. Full details can be found in the advert in this magazine or by calling Rachel on 01525 229 656. We would love to see some of you there.

On Friday 18th May we are supporting the National Spinal Injury association (SIA) with a fi sh and chip super being held in Edlesborough village hall. One of our members will be delivering a talk on spinal injuries and the work the association do. Come along to support this worthy, national cause and fi nd out more. Tickets are £12.50 which includes your fi sh and chips and a £5.00 donation per ticket to the charity. Tea and coffee will be available to purchase but please bring along your own soft and alcoholic beverages. Tickets for this event need to be purchased in advance so that we can order the fish and chips. Please book by no later than Tuesday 15th May. Call Rachel for more details on 01525 229 656.

On Saturday 19th May, PARADOX are coming to Eaton Bray. The cracking covers band will be recreating classic cuts like Clapton and The Culture Club through to contemporary contenders such as Coldplay, the Chilli Peppers and The Kaiser Chief's!!!

Paradox is a 6-piece covers band are based in Leighton Buzzard. Formed ten years ago, their mission is to get people rocking. To support this, we have a full bar license for the event to make your evening really go with a swing.

Tickets are on sale NOW and are priced at just £10.00 per person in advance or £15.00 on the night. Doors open at 7pm. To make sure you don't miss your opportunity of a night to remember, get your tickets early by calling Rachel on 01525 229 656 or email president@ebelions.org.uk.

For a sneak preview of their latest line up or for more details in general, please go to our website www.ebelions.org.uk

Finally on Saturday 9th June we are running a day trip to Foulness island, off the coast of Essex. A luxury coach will be running from Eaton Bray. Full details will be provided next month.

Better still… come along to meet us at our open evening and collect your event tickets while you are there...

Ordinary people doing amazing things

Source: Focus, April 2012

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