Submitted by Ryan Sleik, Director of Youth Services, Rotary Club of Kimberley
As Rotarians we strive to be examples and good representatives of our community. Granted, Rotary pops up in all sorts of places like Rotary Drive and Rotary Park, places that have been built and maintained to help the community share time and space together. Does that count as youth engagement? What do these places mean to us?
Many people might have had experience with Rotary International Youth Exchange. I remember the exchange students that lived with our family when I was growing up. I’m still friends with them now. How does that experience affect the community and how does that affect the lives of youth? Ask anyone who has been on an exchange and I’m sure you will have many different and positive answers.
For more than 30 years, the Rotary Club of Kimberley has been fostering and supporting leadership through the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA). Youth aged 18-25 from around the region are selected as leaders in their community and are given an all-expenses paid opportunity to develop communication, group dynamics, ethics, critical thinking, and more.
This year, with the help from a BC Hydro grant, the Club was fortunate enough to send Matt Irvin and Dagne Toffolo as our two outstanding representatives from our community. According to Matt, “the opportunities Rotary has facilitated for me have produced, life changing outcomes in multiple areas of my life.”
The future impact of the RYLA experience, a scholarship, or the simple support of a kind act is immeasurable and hard to define. In writing this article I struggled to put in words how Rotary is involved with youth in our area. I realized that our role is not just about scholarships, exchanges and community fundraisers. Sometimes it’s the intangible, hard-to-put-your-finger-on contributions that make the most difference.
Although we can’t support everything and we can’t be everywhere, our club is just one club in over 33,000 around the globe who are trying to make the world a better place. What better place to be than in Kimberley? What better place to start than with the leaders of tomorrow?
Ask a Rotarian if you would like to learn more about what we can do to support youth in our area or for more information see www.facebook.com/kimberleyrotaryclub or www.clubrunner.ca/5080.