Ryan Hyland, Rotary staff
Stagehands adjusted the microphones as low as they could go and slid a box into place. And then 10-year-old volunteer leader Lucía Gómez García of Argentina stepped up to the podium to tell Rotary members that kids her age can make positive change in the world.
“As kids we are relentless and happy,” said Lucía, addressing the Rotary Convention on 7 June. “We are always ready to explore and learn, but principally we’re spontaneous and clear. We don’t have problems to say if we don’t like anything. To tell the truth is natural and when we don’t do so, everyone knows, because we blush.”
Lucía talked about the impact young people have had on the world, such as Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, who at age 17 received the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy for girls’ right to education. She also mentioned Ryan Hreljac of Canada, who at the age of six raised money to dig a well for a school in Uganda. As a result of his work, the Ryan’s Well Foundation was established.
“As kids, we have our time to study, to do sports, to play. But we also have to pay attention to what happens around us,” she said. “Only if we are aware, can we identify the needs of people who live near us. If we have the capacity to detect those needs, we can propose ideas to achieve the change.”
Last March, Lucía was recognized by then RI President Ron Burton and RI Director Celia Elena Cruz de Giay during the Presidential New Generations Conference in Rosario, Argentina. The conferences drew attention to Rotary programs for youth and young adults under the age of 30. “We are young. Our projects are small, like us, but that doesn’t mean they are not important,” Lucía said. “We’re little children ready to do big things. And we can make other children join us. We belong to an organization [Rotary] that has everything to reach that goal. Adults say we belong to the “Y” or “Z” generation. They say we are digital natives. It’s true, technology is very friendly for us, but it’s just a tool. We share the same wish to help others as any other member of the Rotary family.”