What Is your Rotary Club doing to focus on Youth Service this month? May is Youth Service (formerly called New Generations) Month when Rotary Clubs, around the world focus on youth services, Rotaract, Interact, RYLA, Youth Exchange.
Rotary International's Structured Programs for Youth Service are: Interact, Rotaract, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, and Youth Exchange. The month of May is designated as “Youth Service Month” to focus on all Rotary activities that support the development of young people up to the age of 30.
Interact is a Rotary-sponsored service club comprised of 14-18 year olds. Interact gives young people the opportunity to take part in fun, meaningful service projects. Along the way, Interactors develop their leadership skills and initiative while meeting new friends. Members exchange ideas, opinions and plans with other talented, energetic people, in an atmosphere free from negative pressures and distraction. Interact strives to promote student leadership, local volunteer service, and to make members aware of the many global and world issues that effect people everyday.
Ultimately, students can:
• Become acquainted with a premiere service organization (Rotary International) and proven leaders from communities throughout Rotary;
• Learn how to manage and head community service projects;
• Learn about other Rotary club programs including Rotaract (service club for young adults), Earlyact or Rotakids (a service club for primary school students), youth exchange (a chance to live and study abroad ) and RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards).
The word Interact stands for “international action” and today there are more than 20,300 Interact Clubs with 468,556 members in 159 countries.
Rotaract is a Rotary-sponsored service club for young people ages 18-30. Rotaract clubs are usually community or university-based and are sponsored by a local Rotary club, making them true “partners in service” and key members of the Rotary family.
Young adults augment their knowledge and skill and also address the physical and social needs of their communities while promoting international understanding and peace through a framework of friendship and service. Rotaractors also often spearhead the formation of Interact clubs and participate in RYLA.
Rotaract is one of the fastest-growing programs of Rotary service with more than 10,900 Rotaract Clubs with 250,792 members in 184 countries.
Rotaractors follow the motto “fellowship through service”.
Everything you need to organize, certify, and manage your club is in the Rotaract Handbook (PDF)
Rotary Youth Exchange is an excellent and inexpensive way for high school age students to travel and study in a foreign country.
Youth exchange gives the participant the opportunity to improve their language skills and school and family experiences will teach them the culture of their host country. They also act as ambassadors for their home country. Each year the Rotary Districts that are part of ESSEX send approximately over 100 young people to other countries and accept 100+ young people from other countries in return.
Accepting a youth exchange student into your club, community and household can be a very rewarding experience. It’s an opportunity for you, your family and your fellow Rotarians to learn about a different culture and also help a young person understand your culture. The goal of Rotary Youth Exchange is to promote the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace at the person to person level.
Each year thousands of young people take part in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) programs worldwide. Young people are chosen for their leadership potential to attend a seminar, camp or workshop to discuss leadership skills and to learn those skills through practice. RYLA aims to:
• Demonstrate Rotary’s respect and concern for youth;
• Provide an effective training experience for selected youth and potential leaders;
• Encourage leadership of youth by youth; and
• Recognize publicly young people who are rendering service to their communities.
Started in Queensland, Australia in 1959 and officially adopted by Rotary International in 1971, the RYLA program enables young people to debate issues of professional responsibility and human relations, improve leadership and communication skills, learn about businesses or institutions and meet Rotarians, while having fun and making friends. For participants, RYLA provides the opportunity to refine skills and explore pertinent topics with peers and elders; for Rotarians, RYLA offers the chance to help develop leaders, share valuable expertise and bridge the gap between generations. RYLA can help lead to the strengthening and formation of Interact and Rotaract clubs and can be used as a recruiting tool for youth exchange.