by Jamie Weber September 18, 2020From the VaultStudents in Anchorage Develop Life Skills Through Lions QuestIn a state often referred to as “the last frontier”, Anchorage, Alaska, USA boasts gorgeous scenery and is the home to abundant wildlife. It’s one of the most diverse cities in the nation, with more than 100 languages spoken within the Anchorage School District. It’s also where 7,500 middle school students are eager for education and ready to take steps toward success. Luckily for them, Lions Quest is there to guide the way.Lions Quest is Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF)’s social and emotional learning (SEL) program. The program teaches students pre-k through grade 12 the necessary skills to lead happy, healthy, successful lives. Students learn life skills such as bullying prevention, staying away from drugs and alcohol, making responsible decisions, and establishing positive relationships. Feeling and showing empathy, setting and achieving goals, and managing emotions are all also part of the vital character development Lions Quest promotes. Another important aspect of the program is something Lions can particularly connect with— service learning.Anchorage School District has been a nationwide leader in SEL programming for many years, but was searching for one unified program to implement across their middle schools. Lions recognized a unique opportunity; through their own network, they had connections with district leadership, and through LCIF, they had access to both funding and a proven SEL program. The Lions of District 49-A secured a grant from LCIF and from Northrim Bank, a local bank, to make Lions Quest possible for the Anchorage School District. Lions also attended the teacher training workshops and are still actively involved, meeting with school officials to discuss the program and Lions’ involvement in the school district and broader Anchorage community. The students at 10 middle schools in Anchorage will benefit from the lessons, which began implementation in the fall of their current 2017-2018 school year. In June and September 2017, 184 teachers were trained in workshops that taught them how to implement Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence, the middle school SEL program, into their classrooms and current lesson plans. In the 2018-2019 academic year, at least 120 more teachers will be trained.The students in the Anchorage middle schools have already seen success since Lions Quest was implemented. Thomas, an eighth-grade student at Hanshew Middle School, has taken away a particularly important life lesson. “Lions Quest can’t change the things people do or say, but it helps explain how people should handle things when people do or say things [you] don’t like.” Another student, Ji, reflected on how the program is cultivating more positive behavior. “Lions Quest opens up positive options that we sometimes can’t see in ourselves.”Thanks to the Lions of District 49-A, their local partners, and LCIF, thousands of students in Anchorage are well on their way to a bright future.