Rotary Youth Leadership Awards
By Cheryl Rosen
WEBSTER, Massachusetts (March 6, 2013) — The Rotary Club of Webster-Dudley welcomed Ed King from RYLA, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, a 3-day leadership workshop for high school sophomores from throughout central and eastern Massachusetts.
Rotary District 7910 (which Webster-Dudley is part of) is holding its 21st RYLA weekend. It is held annually at the end of June (all day Friday-Sunday, June 28-30 this year) at Worcester State University. On average, yearly, 155 students from 45 Rotary clubs, who have just completed their sophomore year of high school, participate in the program.
Some of those who completed the leadership weekend the previous year go on to be Group Facilitators after their junior year, while between 3-5 of them continue as Program Facilitators after they graduate. There are even some who keep on coming back to volunteer for many years afterwards. Kosta Karamanakis, from Shephard Hill Regional High School, who the Rotary Club of Webster-Dudley sent to RYLA two years ago, is a Program Facilitator this year. He and all the other facilitators are taking training sessions this spring to prepare for the event.
Ed provided the Rotary Club with a rundown of the weekend's events and described the activities. A Reality Fair is held to teach students about daily life as an adult with careers/jobs, family, financial surprises - everything they think they already know, but don't.
There is a Rotary Expo to see different things that not only Rotary is involved in, but possibilities for themselves such as youth exchange, Interact (Rotary for ages 12-18), Rotaract (for ages 18-30), College Scholarships (to study abroad), and Rotary club projects. One exhibit is Shelterbox, a 10-person tent that the students can walk through, that is used in natural disasters around the world. It fits in a carrying bin with enough supplies for a family of 10 to use for up to six months or longer (cooking utensils, blankets, stove, water purification kit, tools and even a coloring book and crayons).
Many students arrive shy, never being away from home before. It doesn't take long before they start to open up, meet new friends, and are the first to make it to the top of the rock wall - yes, there is even a rock wall to climb. For students not too sure about taking the climb, all you need is a group of vocal teenagers to encourage you to make it all the way to the top!
The individual groups are assigned different tasks during the weekend. Assignments are given to the students by their group facilitator (each group has 6-7 students). They also do journaling in their binder. Although many Rotary clubs send more than one student, and they may know each other, they will not be in the same group or dorm.
There is also social time each evening which usually includes indoor dodge ball, music with a DJ and dancing. At the end of the weekend, everyone gets dresses up and participates in an event for the parents.
Most of the volunteers throughout the weekend are Rotarians who either "observe" (actively assist), run the sessions or chaperone the overnights. Training for those who run the sessions are also done in advance. The cost for the leadership weekend is paid for each student by the individual Rotary club who sponsors them. Ed highly recommends that the clubs interview their own candidates and invite them back to the club to speak about their experience.
Please contact the Rotary club if you would like more information on RYLA, on how to sponsor a future student or would like to attend a meeting when one of our students is a speaker at our club.
Mark your calendar for some upcoming speakers and events of the Rotary Club of Webster-Dudley. Jean Walker, who is already working on her third book on fairies, will be speaking on April 3rd. The Rotary club will be sponsoring a Red Cross Blood Drive on April 16th from 1:00 - 6:00 pm at Point Breeze. Please schedule your appointment online at www.redcrossblood.org. You can also call 800-REDCROSS. Appointments are preferred, walk-ins welcome. For more information, go to the Red Cross Blood Drive event page on Facebook.
Rotary is a global humanitarian organization with more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members are men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place through humanitarian service. Rotary’s top priority is the global eradication of polio.
For photos, video or more information about Rotary International please visit: www.rotary.org.