What is RYLA?
Rotary Youth Leadership Association
Rotary is an international service organization. Its main focus is to bring together business and leaders to provide humanitarian service. Through this service the ultimate goal is to build goodwill and peace. Rotary as an organization is open to all people regardless of race, religion, gender, or political preference. Rotary began RYLA in Australia and since then has expanded all across the globe. RYLA was created to help teach the future leaders of tomorrow how to handle obstacles they will face in the real world. Rotarians, now through RYLA, have taught youth important values. RYLA builds future Rotarians with the primary motto “Service Above Self."
Youth leaders are chosen to continue on in RYLA. RYLA in District 7255 is a completely student run program. Students begin RYLA as a sophomore and can continue on even into college. Many people who have entered this program have been introduced to it through a Rotary based high school club, Interact. Interact focuses on implementing the “Service Above Self” motto. Entering RYLA further develops an individual’s will to help others. RYLA brings together young adults from all different walks of life into a close-knit community. Through many team-building activities students begin to become more aware of what is going on around them. Through their new consciousness, values of compassion and acceptance are emphasized.
Leadership qualities are built in students and are meant to be applied in the real world. The annual Spring RYLA conference is the first time that students are exposed to the program, as high school sophomores. During Spring RYLA students listen to speakers and work within small groups. These groups help students to be more active and open to others. They learn useful listening and problem solving skills, as well as develop confidence. The Summer RYLA sessions further expand the character of young adults. The summer event is broken down into two weeks. The first week focuses on constructing leadership traits within the individual. Each day is broken down into specific topics, Power of Authentic Relationships, Power of Thought, Power of the Written Word, and Power of the Spoken Word. They apply these newfound skills into a resume based writing experience, which culminates in a mock interview. After the first week is completed the students are invited to stay and begin a long-term project. These projects are meant help grow and improve RYLA. Week two teaches RYLArians how to create a long-term goal into a team-oriented project.
Association refers to the family that you make as you participate in RYLA. Your first year in RYLA you are a sophomore entering as a RYLArian, introduced by a Rotarian, Guidance Counselor, or an older RYLArian. If you decide to continue the following year as a junior, you can complete an application for a facilitator position. After being a facilitator, the leadership role is being part of the Senior Leaders. In order to become a Senior Leader you have to endure an extensive essay and interview process. This is the basic process that RYLA in District 7255 has adapted in order to sustain a completely student run program. Throughout the years RYLA creates lifelong friendships and bonds that cannot be broken. For this reason many college students return to chaperone to give back to RYLA what it gave to them.