This conference dedicated to “The Spirit of Youth” was last weekend at the Cotswold Water Park and I have to tell you it was inspiring. A showcase of all that is good about Rotary and what clubs in our district have achieved.
The most inspiring bits were:
1. The Interact group from Minehead College who, have focussed on fair trade and have partnered with a school in Uganda. They are fundraising for a solar farm in Uganda so that the they can use ICT at the schools.
2. The district winners of youth speaks who talked about polio eradication. They were amazing and can’t remember who said of these competition “life is competitive, bring back conker fights”, but we all understood the sentiment.
3. RYLA – Jack Russell talking about RYLA but also, and more inspiring, the Breakthrough project which he does with Bridgwater Academy. Ten boys each year, the ones who are disruptive in school, are taken to hike Dartmoor north to south. It takes about 3 days, they take them off sugar, hydrate them and give them good food. It is the sort of challenge they don’t know they can do and they come back different people.
4. Children’s Hospice Southwest. How can you fail to be inspired by lengths they go to to ensure these children with terminal illnesses achieve everything they want to do in their final days.
5. And about membership. In western Europe 75% of Rotarians are aged 50+ and 87% are male (thought you might like to know that!). People under 50 communicate electronically so we need to be using Facebook and Twitter in order to enter their conversations and interest them in what we do.
6. Generation Y, I hadn’t heard of them before either, but they are 14 – 32 year olds. 96% of them communicate online and 76% of 17 year olds volunteer on a weekly basis.
There is lots of interesting stuff going on out there, and a general understanding that clubs will need to be different to attract the energy of a younger membership.