Ro­tary leader keeps fo­cus on youth work

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Helping Others -

Ash­ford Ro­tary Club’s new pres­i­dent has vowed to con­tinue the em­pha­sis on sup­port­ing youth ac­tiv­i­ties in the borough dur­ing his year in of­fice.

Steve Parkin, a re­tired IT re­cruit­ment con­sul­tant, has taken over the club helm for the year 2017/18. As well as sup­port­ing youth, his cho­sen char­ity is Parkin­son’s UK.

Mr Parkin has been a Ro­tar­ian for 11 years, orig­i­nally in Alder­shot be­fore mov­ing to Ash­ford four years ago. He has been in­stru­men­tal in get­ting the club in­volved with the var­i­ous com­pe­ti­tions Ro­tary holds for young people.

He said: “The Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional theme for the com­ing year is ‘Mak­ing a Dif­fer­ence’ and that is ex­actly what the phi­los­o­phy of the Ash­ford club has been for the last 95 years. That won’t change, but giv­ing young people a help­ing hand to de­velop and find their way in the world is very im­por­tant to me.

“The club al­ready spon­sors two Ro­takids clubs at Phoenix Com­mu­nity School and St Mary’s C of E School. These are for chil­dren up to 12 and mem­bers are en­cour­aged to work on projects for the com­mu­nity and raise money for their cho­sen char­i­ties. The chil­dren make new friends and learn how to work as a team.”

Along with one of the year man­agers, Mr Parkin in­sti­gated a new In­ter­act Club at Nor­ton Knatch­bull School guided by teach­ers and Ro­tar­i­ans. In­ter­act is for pupils aged 12-18 and con­tin­ues the em­pha­sis on team­work and com­mu­nity projects.

Just about to start its se­cond year, the club al­ready has more than 20 mem­bers.

Ro­tary or­gan­ises an ad­ven­ture week­end twice a year, the Ro­tary Youth Lead­ers Award (RYLA), which is aimed at sec­ondary school pupils. It is de­signed as a lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme for young adults to help them de­velop their po­ten­tial and skills for the fu­ture.

Mr Parkin said: “Ro­tary also runs var­i­ous na­tional com­pe­ti­tions for young people. Last year we were lucky enough to have the na­tional run­ner-up in the se­nior sec­tion of the Young Pho­tog­ra­pher com­pe­ti­tion. This year we had the district win­ner in the in­ter­me­di­ate sec­tion.

“We also did ex­tremely well in the Young Writer com­pe­ti­tion, in con­junc­tion with Bat­tle Ro­tary Club, and a stu­dent from one of our Ash­ford se­nior schools was the na­tional win­ner in the in­ter­me­di­ate sec­tion. We are hop­ing to con­tinue this suc­cess in the com­ing school year.

“Youth Speaks is for sec­ondary school teams and we run this com­pe­ti­tion in con­junc­tion with Ten­ter­den Ro­tary Club. A pub­lic speak­ing com­pe­ti­tion, this is great for boost­ing self con­fi­dence and the num­ber of schools want­ing to be in­volved is in­creas­ing ev­ery year.

“‘There are still more events we would like schools to take an in­ter­est in – such as Young Chef, Young Mu­si­cian and even the Tech­nol­ogy Tour­na­ments.

“Ro­tary is of­ten viewed as an or­gan­i­sa­tion for re­tired busi­ness people, but the Ash­ford club is en­sur­ing that mem­bers re­main right at the heart of the com­mu­nity and en­cour­ag­ing young people to think the same can only be good for ev­ery­one.”

Any­one in­ter­ested in join­ing should email ash­ford. ro­­nds

Ash­ford Ro­tary Club’s out­go­ing pres­i­dent Graeme Calver, left, con­grat­u­lates new pres­i­dent Steve Parkin

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