By Charles Warner
UNION — A local high school student helped develop a program to encourage elementary school children to healthy while participating in a Rotary Club youth leadership event.
The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards is a leadership development program sponsored by the Rotary Club. While participants in the program can be of any age, most of RYLA’s activities focus on secondary school students, university students, or young professionals. RYLA events are typically 3-10 days long and include presentations, activities, and workshops that cover a variety of topics, including:
• Leadership fundamentals and ethics
• Communication skills
• Problem solving and conflict management
• Community and global citizenship
Earlier this summer, Rob Mitchell, 16, a rising senior at Union County High School, took part in the recent RYLA event held at Erskine College. Mitchell was selected by the Union Rotary Club to attend the event and recently addressed the Rotarians about his experiences there. He said the students attending were divided into 8-10 teams of 10-12 members each with each team given the task of developing a community service project.
“We were split up into small groups and we had a community service project we had to complete,” Mitchell said. “Our group focused on nutritional values in younger children and encouraging healthy eating.”
To do that, Mitchell said his group researched nutritional issues and found great deal of statistical information on issues such as childhood obesity, including the fact that South Carolina has high rates of childhood obesity.
Mitchell said the group then found the school they were going to do the project in and called around to churches seeking donations for the project.
“At the school we were going to take the Interact Club and pair them with elementary school children,” Mitchell said. “We were going to use the greenhouse to show them how to grow their own food and how to eat healthy.”
Mitchell said each group then had to turn in their projects to the counselors who reviewed them and selected which project would be presented at the event. The project they selected was the one developed by Mitchell’s group.
In his address to the Union Rotary Club, Mitchell said he’d enjoyed attending the RYLA event and had learned much that he felt would help him in life.
“It was an amazing experience,” Mitchell said. “I think the things I learned will help me in my commuity and my career.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or [email protected]