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Fun, fellowship, education at Kiwanis International convention

| Jul 19, 2017
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(Click the photo to open it in full size. All photos by Leslie Launay Ménétrier.)

Thousands of Kiwanians took in the sights of the City of Lights and enjoyed the fun, fellowship, service and education of the 102nd Annual Kiwanis International Convention.  

If you weren’t able to make it to Paris, France, here are some highlights: 

This convention is the fourth time our global organization has convened in Europe: Vienna in 1983; Nice in 1993; Geneva in 2011, and now Paris. It’s the first time the Kiwanis International and Europe conventions have been held concurrently.  

Our effort to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus is advancing. The World Health Organization validated Ethiopia as a country free of MNT. When Kiwanis started The Eliminate Project, there were 39 nations where mothers and babies were dying from tetanus. In the six years since, that number has been reduced to 17 countries. Help finish the fight. 

DSC_2161_1 One of Kiwanis’ highest honors, The Humanitarian Award, was given to Ruby Bridges. In 1960, she was only six years old when she became one of the first black children to integrate an all-white elementary school in New Orleans. Greeted by an angry mob and escorted by federal marshals, Ruby crossed the threshold of this school and into history—initiating the desegregation of New Orleans’ public schools. Throughout her adult life, Ruby has been committed to ensuring that all children have an opportunity to receive a good education. The Ruby Bridges Foundation serves as a vehicle that emphasizes and promotes the values of tolerance, respect and appreciation of differences. 

Kiwanis also presented a second Humanitarian Award to the white teacher who braved public backlash for teaching a black child. Barbara Henry was recognized for her compassion, bravery, tenacity and caring heart. Every day, Barbara went into the classroom to focus her full attention on one student, Ruby Bridges. She, too, had to pass through swarms of media and mobs of angry people; some of those angry people were other teachers and school administrators. But that didn't stop her. She continued to allow her caring heart to shine through. Barbara could not make the trip to Paris and received her award earlier at her home near Boston. 

During the business session, districts that opened the most new clubs since October 2016 through July 5, 2017, were recognized. The top two districts are Philippine Luzon with 30 new clubs and Taiwan with 18 new clubs. France-Monaco—the convention host district—is the third top district opening 8 new clubs. Nepal and Italy-San Marino, tied for fourth by opening 6 new clubs this year! And Philippine South in fifth with 5 new clubs. 

DSC_2439 Additional top club openers include Georgia, Belgium-Luxembourg, Kentucky-Tennessee, Michigan, Eastern Canada and the Caribbean, and Ecuador, all with seven or more new clubs.  

In the past two years, France-Monaco has opened 10 clubs and is working on three more. Italy-San Marino has opened 11. Nepal—one of our newest Kiwanis nations—has grown to 11 clubs. Romania has opened five clubs and has seen a 40 percent growth in membership. Taiwan has opened 48 new clubs and continues to work on more. And our two districts in the Philippines have opened an incredible 63 new clubs in two years. 

Within the Kiwanis youth programs, Circle K hit an all-time membership high this past year and recently opened its first club in Italy, its 15th nation. Key Club also hit an all-time membership high this past year and has grown into 44 nations. Most recently, Japan, China, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates have become homes to new Key Clubs. 

There are now Builders Clubs in 23 of our Kiwanis nations. Italy has become a strong Builders Club nation with 10 clubs. Also, there are K-Kids clubs in 23 nations. And like Builders Club, there’s been strong growth in Italy with 14 K-Kids clubs. Terrific Kids and BUG programs in schools around the globe reach more than 1 million students between the ages of 6 and 12 years. 

Stan Soderstrom, executive director of Kiwanis, urged Kiwanians to continue the fight to raise money for The Eliminate Project. “We have individual donors, clubs and districts that have made commitments and pledges that total 39 million US dollars. There are immunization programs ready to go in at least six of the remaining nations that await funding … right now. The sooner we can complete the remaining pledges, the more lives of newborns and mothers that will be saved. It is that simple.” 

DSC_2250 For details on the amendments and the election of new trustees, visit here.  

During the closing session, 2016–17 Kiwanis International President Jane Erickson announced the winners of the inaugural Signature Project Recognition Program. Each district was invited to submit its best club-level signature project and submissions came from more than 40 districts. The winners were announced at a luncheon and their gold, silver and bronze winners, along with all the projects, are listed here.  

Susan Namondo Ngongi of UNICEF Ghana accepted the Kiwanis World Service Medal on behalf of UNICEF. It’s the highest honor given by Kiwanis. UNICEF was recognized for its partnership with Kiwanis International and the Kiwanis Children’s Fund to serve the children of the world.  

And finally, Jim Rochford was introduced as the 2017–18 Kiwanis International president. He takes office October 1, 2017.  

The 103rd Annual Kiwanis International Convention will take place June 28–July 1, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Start planning your trip now and don't miss the fun, fellowship, service and education a Kiwanis convention offers.

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