May is Rotary's "Youth Service Month”, during which we focus on all Rotary activities that support the development of young people including Rotaract, Interact, even Rota-Kids! Great examples of Rotary initiatives involving youth include for example the Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) or the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA).
This year, I was privileged to be part of the organizing committee for the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards - and was amazed by the incredible youth in our community.
Together with the Rotary Club of Toronto and the two Rotaract university clubs (Rotaract Club U of T and Rotaract Club of Ryerson University) we wanted to award outstanding civic leadership with a special celebration. We reached out to students grade 10 to 12 of high schools in the City of Toronto, who create positive community impact and are actively involved in their school and community. The awards include four prices endowed with $2000 for Platinum, $1000 for Gold, $500 for Silver and $500 for Bronze.
By the deadline in April we had over 40 applicants with amazing resumes and all of us on the organizing committee were more than impressed. When I think back of what I did in High School… well.
After receiving all the applications, we met to score them and somehow filter the best applicants, the we would invite for a personal interview. Easier said than done - but we managed and one week later, we met our 10 final candidates for a personal interview.
To hear about their achievements and meet these incredible students in person was one of my favourite parts of being on the committee. The engagement in environment and sustainability, multiculturalism, indigenous rights as well as social justice and equity at such young age was simply unbelievable and every single one of these youth deserves an award for their involvement.
After reading the applications, hearing the personal interviews and lots of discussing, our final 4 award winners were chosen. The winners and all finalists, were invited to a special Rotary Lunch at the National Club on May 4, 2018.
It was an exciting day. We had planned a great lunch with nice speeches and musical entertainment by high school students from Toronto. Our MCs were Rotaractors from our club - Lauriane and Enrico - and they did an amazing job guiding us through the lunch and calling the award winners and finalists on stage. Each winner held a short speech about their achievements and their passion to be active in their school and community and I am certain that every attendee was just as impressed as we were before.
All in all it was an amazing time planning and organizing the awards and meeting outstanding leaders in our community. We should never stop encouraging and honouring children, students and youth to be engaged and to care. For all I know, all these students have now been in touch with Rotary and our idea of giving back - and all of them are potential Rotaractors and future Rotarians!
To read more about the finalist and award winners, please click here to find the Voice of the celebration lunch.