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Rivertown Lions bringing youth Leos program to Hastings

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This fall, the Hastings Rivertown Lions Club will sponsor a new youth program, the Rivertown Leo Club, for youth who want to get involved with the Lions organization and help their community.

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Leos is for youth ages 12 to 18 and functions very similarly to the adult Lions clubs.

"It's just like the miniature version of us," said Linda Johnson, a member of the Rivertown Lions Club and the advisor for the Leos club.

The club offers youth the opportunity to do their own community service projects, learn about leadership and develop skills as project organizers, time managers and team leaders. They'll see how teamwork and cooperation can bring exciting and lasting changes to the community, while connecting with friends and having a great time.

The club will be run by the youth members, who will serve in various capacities just like the Lions Club. Johnson's role is simply to advise and guide the group when needed. The decisions, though, are made entirely by the youth.

Leo Clubs can be started by youth who want to get more involved, as happened in Lakeland earlier this year with the St. Croix Valley Lions Club, or by an established adult club, which is what the Rivertown Lions are doing. The idea got started here when Johnson started looking for ways for her son to get involved. Her family has three generations who have been Lions members, and her son, age 12, was upset that he couldn't join until he was 18. So Johnson started investigating. What she found was the Leos. Since then, it's been her passion to see the club established.

"It'll be so much fun," she said.

The group will meet once or twice monthly and will organize service projects throughout the community. One such project Johnson has envisioned to get the club going is building Little Free Library boxes. Little Free Libraries have been popping up all over Hastings, but purchasing the boxes from the organization can be expensive. The Leo project would help make that program more accessible in Hastings.

Getting youth involved with community-focused clubs like the Leos is important because it teaches them to reach out to others and look beyond their own selves.

"It really helps them grow, it helps them be something more than they are," Johnson said. "... Helping others,you feel good about yourself. At the end of the day, it's not about how much money I made, it's did I (help someone)."

The club also teaches teamwork, she said, getting youth to work together on projects in non-sports settings.

Johnson is trying to get about 25 students to sign up for the Leo Club, which will start this fall. There will be a $10 fee and parent permission is required.

For more about the club, call Johnson at 651-829-0780 or Christina Ficke at 651-829-4395 or email rivertownleos2013@gmail.com. Information is also available online in the Leo Zone at www.lionsclubs.org.

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Katrina Styx
Katrina Styx has been a reporter for the Hastings Star Gazette since 2010. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in journalism from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. Prior to coming to Hastings, Katrina reported for weekly newspapers in Jordan, Minn., and River Falls, Wis.
(651) 319-4501
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