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|September is Youth Service Month|
A Message from the Chairman,
In mid August 2009, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting in Evanston, Ill., of the four Chairs of Rotary’s youth programs: Interact, Rotaract, RYLA and Youth Exchange. As Rotary International’s travel budget cuts had prevented the full Committees of the four youth programs meeting, President Kenny considered it important enough that if the Committees couldn’t meet, the four Chairs should. It turned out to be a very productive meeting but nothing lesser could have been expected.
I encourage you all to read President Kenny’s remarks at the commencement of New Generations (Youth Service) Month in the September 2009 edition of The Rotarian, Rotary Down Under or online. In it, he rightfully observes that our youth programs “are some of the most important programs of Rotary.” Through these programs, we have a unique opportunity to impact upon the lives of young people in so many ways – students in schools and communities who belong to Interact Clubs, Rotaractors in one of 7,500 Clubs around the world, as a participant in a RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) program or as one of 8000 young people who are youth exchange students in any given year. Lifelong connections and enduring relationships are formed, many of them cross-cultural, through participation in these programs which, in turn, have a lasting impact on peace and harmony between the nations of the world and their people.
Rotary has thirteen official programs and four of them are youth focused. But each of them should not be viewed in isolation. The four youth programs cover an age range of 14 to 30, the years of adolescence and young adulthood, and each is linked with the other in so many ways. Interactors can become Rotaractors as well as being youth exchange students or be a member of a youth exchange host family. Some RYLA programs around the world automatically include youth exchange students in their program whilst we hope that all our youth alumni will become Rotarians. They are our Rotarians of the future.
President Kenny had chosen as his theme for the year “The Future of Rotary is in Your Hands” for 2009-2010. It may well be that the future of Rotary is in our wonderful youth programs. Let’s integrate our youth programs into our Clubs and our lives as Rotarians. Talk to your District Youth Service Chair about Rotary’s four youth programs and sign up with Rotary International to receive the Youth Service and Youth Exchange e-newsletters. Not only will we help shape the lives of these young people, we will enrich our own lives and the life of our Rotary Clubs.
DAVID ANDERSON PDG
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