"For many high school students, it’s hard to find a space where they feel fully valued and celebrated as a human being–– an open space where they can exist as their truest selves. This is what I, and many others, have found at RYLA. Being around other people that care as much as I do about love and leadership and who share so many values has significantly elevated my perception of life and what my future looks like as a leader in whichever space I find myself in next. Especially during the pandemic, RYLA has given me a sense of purpose and belonging in a time of so much loss and confusion. I am forever grateful for the family and camaraderie I’ve found here." ~ Alumni, 2018 Senior Leader Committee
Our district's RYLA aims to explore and expand the leadership potential of the students all across Long Island, Queens, and Brooklyn. We strive to instill lessons of leadership through our week long, and weekend retreats. Through teamwork our students learn about the importance of working with others. Through interpersonal development we provide our students the access to resources that allow them to step out of their comfort zone. Our trainings provide students with transferable skills that can aid them in their pursuit of employment, or higher education. Most importantly we are proud to work with such bright, and talented students who are the true leaders of tomorrow!
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is an intensive training program that brings together
youth and young adults to further develop character and leadership skills and
learn about Rotary. RYLA often takes the form of a seminar, camp or workshop.
The first RYLA took place in 1959 in Queensland, Australia. RYLA was created as a festival
highlighting local youth organized in honor of a royal visit by Princess Victoria. RYLA was
officially adopted by Rotary International in 1971.
In 2002, Rotary International District 7260 Governor Don Hester asked Past District 7250 Governor Cliff Mclen to start a RYLA program in District 7260. Cliff formed a committee of Rotarians that were involved with students and soon RYLA
was launched in District 7260. That first RYLA had about 50 students from Suffolk County schools.
The program consisted of team building activities, and motivational speakers. The students were
divided into family groups, lead by adult facilitators and ran from about 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Having had
such success with the event the committee started planning the next years event almost immediately after.
Several students joined the adults to give ideas. Cliff stated the goal of the committee was to have RYLA become an
event planned and run by students. In 2014 the two Districts merged to form our current District 7255 RYLA committee.
As the years progressed RYLA went from a one day event to a two day event and eventually evolved into its current status as a year round program packed with conferences, retreats, seminars, training and so much more!
We are also proud to say that we are living Cliff's vision as... RYLA DISTRICT 7255 IS RUN ENTIRELY BY STUDENTS!
Over the years, RYLA has touched the hearts of thousands of Students across District 7255. Currently the RYLA program is thriving and past events have been held at maximum capacity. As we continue to expand, one of our latest additions has been our Alumni Association, which is once again Alumni run, as a demand to stay in RYLA was so high!