The most important lesson Nancy Sharma, one of the 150 students who participated in the RYLA conducted by RC Faridkot, D 3090, learnt at the three-day programme was “never let people tell you that you cannot do something, or you can never achieve anything.” Dubbed Umang (Hope), the aim of this RYLA was “not just about rest and recreation. It was to create awareness about Rotary among the youth and inculcate in them leadership qualities through self-improvement,” says RYLA Chair Devinder Singh.
DG Bagh Singh Pannu inaugurated the RYLA, along with MLA S Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon, and Rajiv Prashar, IAS Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot. The programme was also aired on the local TV channels, enhancing Rotary’s public image. “Umang has helped these students imbibe a feeling of social service and also helped them understand Rotary in a better way,” says DG Pannu.
“I wasn’t aware I could be a leader,” says Nancy but the “Rotarians made us realise that we do not have to be in great positions or spend a lot of money to create an impact. All you need is a smile and the intention to do good.” On what she learnt at the RYLA, Sapna, another participant, says, “At the end of the day, it’s not about who is smarter or who is brighter, it’s about the collective goal to improve your community.”
Apart from celebrating Lohri, at the Radha Krishan Dham orphanage and rendering service at a home for the mentally challenged run by the Red Cross Society, the students were trained in yoga, briefed on organ donation and participated in interactive sessions on women empowerment and the ill-effects of tobacco. They were also treated to a Bollywood night and given a chance to perform on stage. “Be it singing, dancing, Bhangra, histrionics, mimicry or poetry recitation, the students gave fantastic performances,” adds Singh. Outdoor activities covered visits to a rice mill, shooting range and an open-air cookery class.
For Manu Singh, a RYLA participant, his main goal after going back home, “is to start doing better in school and take up challenges to improve myself. I have learnt so much at this RYLA and I want to be a part of this event every time it is being held,” he says.