Ladysmith Secondary School (LSS) students are putting the Rotary Club’s motto of service over self into action as they launch a new partnership for youth to give back to the local community.
Grade 12 student Kennedy Ronmark was sponsored by the Rotary to go on an exchange to Brazil in 2014 and felt inspired this fall to form the Ladysmith Interact Club, which now joins the other 18,000 clubs in 105 countries working to make a difference.
“(Rotary has) helped me a lot so I thought I would try to help them with this club,” Kennedy said. “The thing that is cool about the Interact club that’s different from Rotary is that it’s youth-based so lots of the projects that we’ll be doing in the future are things that youth want to happen.”
The nine members are all part of a leadership class at LSS.
The youth have been busy in recent weeks, including a “random act of kindness” event in downtown Ladysmith where they handed out free cookies to the public.
The teens also joined Rotarians this past weekend, preparing and serving breakfast at the Ladysmith Family and Friends’ Breakfast with Santa.
“They’re so energetic and they’re so excited. They’ve come to a couple of meetings and they just bring a breath of fresh air,” said the Ladysmith Rotary Club’s youth services liasion Eileen Beltgens.
The goal of Interact is to involve youth in service projects so they will continue on as active community members in the future, she said.
“Giving kids that chance to be leaders on these service projects gives them a chance to be really excited about doing something for someone else,” Beltgens said.
“They can see the results and then hopefully later on they’ll want to be part of a service organization that also gives back to the community.”
Vancouver Island University’s Nanaimo campus also has a Rotaract club, which is also affiliated with Rotary and geared towards post-secondary students.
The Interact Club’s next event is planned for Sunday Dec. 11 where they will join local Rotarians to collect donations such as scarves, canned goods, socks and toothbrushes for inclusion into care packages that they will be delivering to homeless shelters in the Nanaimo and Ladysmith area.
Donations will be accepted at 49th Parallel Grocery Store from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Members will also be visiting door-to-door in the area of Symonds and Roberts streets during that time.
Beltgens said the Interact members have been able to see how they can develop their own leadership schools through participating in events with Rotary.
“I just feel they’re really open to making things happen and they recognize there’s a lot of experience in Rotary,” she said.
Kennedy said her classmates at LSS have been enthusiastic about supporting the new club.
“A lot more people than I thought have shown interest,” she said.
“I think a lot of people like the club because it’s all what we want to do.”