Amplifying youth voice can come in many forms: city or town youth councils, youth leadership summits, and youth service opportunities. Creating meaningful youth engagement can strengthen an organization’s mission by ensuring that their changes are impactful, widespread, and sustainable. A quintessential example of an organization that effectively utilizes youth voice and seeks to uplift young people is Rotary International.
Rotary International is an international service organization that strives to “provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace.” Consisting of over 35,000 clubs, Rotary International is a global network of 1.2 million individuals that seek to promote a variety of causes, including increasing access to clean water, growing local economies, ending polio, advocating for peace, and supporting education.
One of Rotary International’s hallmarks is its vast array of youth programs that encourage young people to engage in community service, develop leadership skills, and use their voices to create positive change. These youth programs include Rotaract Clubs, Interact Clubs, Rotary Youth Exchange, New Generations Service Exchange, and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. For instance, Rotary Youth Exchange immerses young people in cultural exchanges to become global citizens and advocate for peace and social justice. Rotary Youth Leadership Awards allows local clubs to sponsor youth in their communities to participate in an intensive leadership experience to develop leadership and problem-solving skills, learn from community leaders, and connect with fellow student leaders.
Last year, I was sponsored by my local Rotary Club to attend my district’s Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. This three-day conference was transformative: it has not only helped me strengthen my communication and problem-solving skills but has also allowed me to connect with student leaders throughout my state. By learning how to recognize a need in my community, this program reinforced my value for teamwork and fueled my commitment to Rotary’s motto: “service above self.”
My experience only reflects that I am one of many young people who have been touched by Rotary’s commitment to empowering youth. By providing opportunities for young people to develop their voices and get involved in their communities, Rotary International is using youth voice to amplify social change. Rotary International is ensuring that youth have the skills and resources to become changemakers and leaders in their communities. Empowering the next generation is extremely important, and Rotary International is one of many organizations opening doorways for young people to have a voice.
Learn more about Rotary International’s Youth Programs here.
Michelle Ly was a 2020 MMP Bank of America Student Leader. #bankofamericastudentleader