Posted by Michael Craig on Apr 29, 2019
May is Youth Service month across Rotary International, so it’s a great time to reflect on Youth Service in our District. We should be proud of the range of programs our Rotary clubs offer youth. Equally, we should be proud of what young leaders can accomplish with a just a little support and input.
Interact is for 14-18 year olds and is our largest program, with approximately 300 members in 23 Interact clubs. Interactors volunteer in their communities, make international connections, and develop leadership skills while making new friends. Two new clubs were chartered this year: Maple Grove (Yarmouth) and Northeast Kings (New Minas).
We also have 6 Rotaract clubs based mostly at universities, where young leaders ages 18-30 come together to exchange ideas with community leaders, develop leadership and professional skills, and have fun through service. A new club was chartered this year at NSCC Kingstec and recognized as student organization of the year.
Rotary Adventures are our most widely available programs.  Across the district, clubs invest almost $45K each year to sponsor youth attendance at several Rotary Adventures programs. The best-known is the Rotary Adventure in Citizenship in Ottawa; we have 27 students on this program right now, Apr 28 – May 1. Students from every community in NS, PE and NL can apply to attend the Adventure in Citizenship and Adventure in Human Rights programs (the application process for the Adventure in Human Rights program starts this week).
Rotary Youth Exchange takes the adventure to the next level, either as a Summer exchange lasting 1-2 months or a School Year exchange lasting 11 months. A school year exchange is a major investment in a student, with the equivalent value of approximately $20K (Rotary delivers this program for 70% less than that). This program changes the lives of 20+ students each year.
Lastly, we strive to offer programs that are available to all youth. Interact, Rotaract and the Adventure programs are no/low cost and there is financial support available for students without the family means to afford a year abroad on exchange.
Clubs can also develop (and D7820 and Global Grants can support) programs targeted to youth at risk, from disadvantaged backgrounds, etc. For example, in 2018 several Rotary clubs in metro Halifax worked with a community partner organization to send 12 students on a late summer Adventure in Ottawa. 
Clubs across D7820 are doing some excellent Youth Service programs. I’ll leave you with these two questions: What would you like Rotary to do for Youth Service next? And are you the person who can lead the next great thing?