Every year we sponsor one (this year two) 17 year-olds from local schools to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards course at Hebden Bridge.

RYLA gives an opportunity to experience and learn things about yourself, about working in a team and about leading and supervising other people. The course activities, outdoor and indoor, are based on elements of problem solving, communication, organisation, delegation and teamwork. Each course member is given an opportunity to take on a leader’s role and is then given feedback by staff, participants and mentors. It is challenging, tiring and sometimes pushes participants to their limits.

Each year those we sponsor come back with their family and Rotary staff and give us a presentation about their experience. Without fail they tell us it has been life-changing, daunting at first but ultimately invaluable in developing them as people.

It is a vital part of our work with local schools and young people.

One of our 2023 participants has shared an insight into the RYLA experience in her own words.

RYLA was such an amazing experience; from that week I have made so many close friends and learnt valuable lessons that I will use throughout my life.

Whenever I recount my adventure completing the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, I always describe it as “one of the most demanding but also rewarding weeks”. This really sums it up. For all the effort I put into RYLA, getting up early and completing difficult tasks with people I had only just met, I got ten times as much out of it. After working together whilst building ziplines, bridges, hiking with stretcher equipment and rowing handmade rafts, my group emerged as the overall winners. I‘m still so proud of what we achieved.

I cannot thank Harrogate Brigantes enough for sponsoring me and giving me this opportunity. It was unforgettable, and I will always remember RYLA. When presenting to you all with Matilda, I almost got a little emotional being able to thank you all in person. I hope you all know just how much this meant to me.

So, at the risk of sounding repetitive, thank you all again and I hope next years’ sponsors enjoy RYLA as much as I did.

Niamh Armstrong  (Ashville College)

Niamh and Matilda with their parents, RYLA staff and Brigantes Rotarians

L-R  Peter Wood, Keith Prichard, Joanna Griffin, Simon Griffin, Matilda Griffin, Rtn David Price (Matilda’s mentor), Niamh Armstrong, Rtn Cindy Stephenson (Niamh’s mentor), Lucy Hodgson (RYLA Course Director), Zara Armstrong, Keith Armstrong

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