Nurturing Hearts and Minds: The Lions Quest Journey at Lincoln Elementary School

“When we provide programs like Lions Quest, it’s something our children will carry for the rest of their lives,” says Dr. Tamara Young, director of student services at Lincoln Elementary School in Calumet City, Illinois. “One day they are going to be the leaders of our community, so we want to invest in our students and understand the type of curriculum that can be supportive of building their character.” 

In March 2020, the school implemented the Lions Quest social and emotional learning (SEL) program using a Lions Quest Community Partnership Grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) in the amount of US$8,676. As a comprehensive and universal, evidence-based SEL program, Lions Quest helps children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. 

“We were able to utilize that money to build our program to start the foundation of our Lions Quest curriculum, which helps us develop responsible citizens and grow our community,” she says.  

Dr. Young loves her job. Early on, she found her passion while working with special needs students. Through her career, she progressed from being a case manager to her current role, and her background in social work has shaped her approach to SEL. She believes in understanding her students and teaching them to be understanding of each other, which is one of the reasons she is such a strong supporter of Lions Quest. She says when you work with children, “You’re not dealing with a piece of a child but the whole child.” Moreover, she uses Lions Quest to help students embrace each other’s differences, whether those differences are cultural, racial or related to their home lives. 

Samantha Surges, a teacher at the school, says the students have taken the lessons they’ve learned through this program and are applying them in their lives. “I really have seen the kids be able to identify how they’re feeling and then act appropriately,” she says. Building a child’s emotional intelligence is very important and helps them thrive in all aspects of their lives, including in school. Lions Quest and Lincoln Elementary School are taking steps to ensure students’ emotions are being properly nurtured. 

The program was particularly helpful throughout the global pandemic, when students and administrators had to shift to online learning. They ensured that the students continued to receive their Lions Quest lessons throughout their remote learning. When schools reopened for in-person learning after several months away, the school implemented Lions Quest programming to help returning students and students who had never been in a classroom adjust to the new setting. Even today, the school continues to prioritize Lions Quest in the curriculum. 

“Lions Quest is a gift of hope,” Dr. Young says. “It is a program that gives students the skills they will need to be successful in any environment.” 

Visit to learn about Lions Quest, LCIF’s signature youth program, offering students a social emotional learning curriculum to build the skills needed to navigate life and prevent bullying and substance abuse.