Karin Demez, Global Portfolio Leader for Johns Manville Engineered Product’s fiberglass business, is president of the Kiwanis Club in Verviers Espérance, Belgium, and recently raised money to support hippotherapy. We interviewed Karin to find out more about her efforts.
What is Kiwanis?
Kiwanis is a global community of clubs, dedicated to improving the lives of children. Each community has unique needs, and Kiwanis empowers members to pursue creative ways to serve the needs of children, such as fighting hunger, improving literacy and offering guidance. Kiwanis clubs host nearly 150,000 service projects each year. At Kiwanis Espérance Verviers, Belgium, we are 18 members, we call ourselves “Les Girls Power” because we are all female members and extremely active!
How do you finance the charity projects in your service club?
Of course, the members give money. But our main social actions are to sell chocolate eggs during Easter time, for the benefit of disadvantaged children in the region. All profits are donated to charities supported by our club.
Your club recently received money from the other regional service clubs for a special project.
Yes, that's right. Twenty-seven regional associations collected 19,000 euros and started a competition to distribute this money to specific projects. You had to present your project to at least two-thirds of the regional associations. We visited all 27; I alone went to 11.
Now, what was your charity project all about?
We support a horse stable called “L'Ecurie des Charmes”. Located 13 km outside of Verviers, it has been a hippotherapy center since 2018.
What is hippotherapy?
This is essentially therapeutic riding. It's a perfect thing for many disabled children. The horse provides the rider with rhythmic swinging movements and encourages the rider to achieve proper balance and posture. It also offers the children many sensory stimulations. You will be amazed how quickly severely disabled children can sit upright on the horse and ride without special help.
What did the horse stable need the money for?
While they do an excellent job with hippotherapy, it's difficult to get the kids in the saddle. So, they looked for technical aids to do this work and found a manufacturer of a lift that transfers the kids from their wheelchairs and puts them right in the saddle. The children float on the horse, so to speak. The cost of this electrified elevator was 8,000 euros and changes to the building structure amounted to another 12,000 euros.
The elevator in action
How did you present your project to the other regional clubs?
You won't believe it, but sometimes we dressed up like angels and then made a very professional PowerPoint presentation with lots of pictures and videos. We also shared a video on YouTube. Our activity, but above all the entire project background, was very much appreciated by the other clubs, so that in the end we won 13,000 euros, which were invested directly in the lift.
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