By Caitlin Cangialosi, Rotary International Programs and Engagement Specialist
Every year, over 350,000 youth participate in Rotary’s youth programs. Yet, until recently, Rotary didn’t have resources that directly engaged them in service, a fact that surprised me when I first began working for Rotary International’s Programs for Young Leaders team in the spring of 2019.
Jeffrey Thompson, Elizabeth Piwonka, Madalyn Smith, and Sarah Jenkins were motivated to create a new club from their experience leading RYLA camps in District 5830 in 2019 and 2020.
By Sarah Jenkins, president of the E-Club of Leaders in Service (District 5830), Texas, USA
In 1996, Rotary District 5830 held its first ever RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards). On the 25th anniversary, a group of alumni decided it was time to start our own Rotary club. Rather than creating a traditional club, we decided to be innovative and chartered the Rotary E-Club of Leaders in Service in February 2020 with 22 Rotary program alumni, all former participants and staff from RYLA 5830. Continue reading →
Soovan Sharma Dookho, lower left, with other participants in the RYLA sponsored by District 9220 in Madagascar.
By Soovan Sharma Dookhoo, president of the Rotaract Club of Riviere Du Rempart, Mauritius
Attending a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards event hosted by District 9220 in Madagascar has been one of my most cherished experiences both from a leadership and a cultural standpoint. I joined members of Rotaract from Mauritius, marching as one, as we eagerly boarded a flight to the longest island in the Indian Ocean. From my first day in Madagascar, I was surrounded by a completely different culture. It was a joy simply going through the streets, and taking in all of the scenery and action.
Mike Norkin leads District 5330’s RYLA as camp director.
By Mike Norkin, RYLA camp director for District 5330 (California, USA)
I attended my first Rotary club meeting as a 24-year-old guest of a member, and sat in complete awe. Students and members who had attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program the weekend before were sharing their stories. I will never forget the feeling I had as I listened to the accounts of how lives were being changed. I knew, at that moment, that I would be a lifelong Rotarian if I was able to participate in this program.
Daniel Eduardo Zavala is a District Rotaract Representative. Taking part in a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards event set him down a path of Rotary service.
By Daniel Eduardo Zavala, Rotaract Club of San Joaquin, Venezuela
In 2010, I had my first exposure to Rotary during a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) event in San Cristobal, a beautiful city in my country of Venezuela. A secretary at the university I was attending recommended that I would get a lot out of the event scheduled for the following weekend, and being up for adventure, I said yes. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Continue reading →
Participants in the RYLA from the Netherlands and Germany collaborate to develop a strategy.
By Cédric Schad
I am a 19-year-old law student at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. Through the Rotary Club of Bad Bederkesa, Germany, I had the chance to take part in a Dutch-German Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) seminar in Nordhorn this year. It was an amazing experience. When I arrived on that Friday for the “Proud to be European” seminar, I didn’t know what to expect. But luckily, I wasn’t the only one. Continue reading →
Stephanie Witkowski, middle in blue shirt, during her Rotary Youth Exchange in Slovakia.
By Stephanie Witkowski, Rotary Club of Honolulu Pau Hana
At 28 years old, I decided to become a Rotarian, because Rotary changed my life.
I grew up in a small town in Oregon, USA, and was a young leader in my school. When I was 15 years old, I applied to attend a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards event in Rotary’s District 5110 to learn more about myself and what leadership meant to me. During that amazing week-long experience, I learned not only about how to be a better leader for my school and community, but about Rotary itself. Continue reading →
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards participants take part in an outdoor challenge course designed to teach leadership and problem-solving. Photo courtesy District 7780
By Sheila Rollins, governor of District 7780, parts of Maine and New Hampshire, USA
Changeover ceremonies, in which Rotary leaders transition to their new positions, are often formal events. I knew I wanted our district’s ceremony to be different. I wanted an event that would positively reflect the ideals of Rotary, that would be family-oriented and cost-conscious, and that would not take place in a hotel ballroom. I considered combining the district changeover with a service project, but I decided to create something even more unique: I planned the changeover to coincide with our annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). Continue reading →
Ken Robertshaw and Grace Alsancak during their trip down the Mississippi River.
By Ken Robertshaw, Rotary Club of Halifax, Yorkshire
On 7 August, my friend Grace and I set out on an expedition to kayak the length of the Mississippi River. We completed the journey on 4 October.
Our goal was to raise funds for a charity in the United Kingdom, The Theodora Children’s Trust, that places specialist entertainers in Children’s hospitals and hospices to cheer up ill children and assist their recovery through laughter.
The journey was not without problems. We encountered severe electrical storms, woke Continue reading →
Ken Robertshaw and Grace Alsancak during a stop in the kayaking challenge.
By Ken Robertshaw, a member of the Rotary Club of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England
I had the misfortune of seriously injuring my leg 35 years ago, requiring six operations, and the leg still troubles me. So I know how challenging hospital stays can be, even with the best efforts of the medical staff.
Imagine how much worse it is for a child; frightened, sick, and away from family and friends. A while ago, I learned about a small charity in the United Kingdom called the Theodora Children’s Trust that specializes in sending in trained entertainers to bring mirth and merriment to children in the hospital. Continue reading →