Krysta Crane-Simms knows the benefits of having programs that help youth with their mental wellness.
She’s seen them work firsthand through her job in the mental-health and addictions field at a central Newfoundland youth treatment centre.
Now Crane-Simms, from Grand Falls-Windsor, hopes to put her experience to use as the president of the Lions Club International KOPE — an acronym for Knights of Prevention and Education — Canada Cyber Lions Club.
The idea is for this cyber club to offer training programs and resources for youth who want to help their peers. They want to bring in youth age 12 to 18.
“Our goal is to get teenagers to be positive leaders within their own community,” said Crane-Simms.
Right now the group is sitting at 20 members, most of which are from Newfoundland and Labrador, although some are from across Canada.
Over the last several months, Crane-Simms and the other members have been working with the American chapter of the cyber club on its goals and mandate. The group was officially chartered on Sept. 19.
“We want to try to make a difference for our kids in the future,” said Crane-Simms.
To help lead their members in helping turn youth into community leaders, the cyber Lions Club will offer them training sessions and give them information in the areas they want to help with.
They’ll also develop programs with their goals in mind.
“The goal is to get a club member in every province,” said Crane-Simms.
Service organizations have been experiencing membership declines over the years, as older members retire, and new ones aren’t stepping up as readily as in the past.
The Lions Club International has been no exception to this trend and is trying to bring in new members.
The chartering of the Lions cyber club joins more than half a dozen new startups in the last four years. Just recently, the Baie Verte Peninsula Lions Club marked its return to club status when it was chartered in late August.
Paul Baker, a past district governor and current new club specialist with the Lions Club, was one of those responsible for reviving the Grand Falls-Windsor chapter in 2018 after it fell by the wayside, and he hopes to do the same in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Baker said they’re not sure what happened at the club in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, but when the Lions try to revive a chapter, they seek out entirely new members.
“Some clubs just age out,” he said. “They don’t bring in new blood and eventually you just have a group of old men. We don’t try to save clubs like that, we establish a new club, with new blood and start it up again.”
He said the key is finding activities that appeal to younger people, by which he means anyone under 50. Baker recently moved to St. Anthony from central Newfoundland and said the Botwood chapter, for example, has people of all ages and the club is thriving.
Lions Club International isn’t new in Labrador, with branches in the southern and western parts of the peninsula. They’re also working on starting a new chapter in Port Hope Simpson, which Baker said looks promising so far.
He’ll be in Port Hope Simpson on Sunday to hold an information session for anyone interested. From there, he will hit the road to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Baker said anyone who wants to get involved in either club should contact him via email at email@example.com.
Nicholas Mercer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering central Newfoundland for SaltWire Network.
Evan Careen is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Labrador for SaltWire Network