As is always the case, local students returned from the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) enthused and very appreciative for the experience.
RYLA is a leadership development program that Rotary has run for many years where events focus on high school, university students or young professionals.
The Gridley Rotary Club typically sends three students from Gridley, Biggs or Live Oak High Schools where they gain experience from workshops, presentations and activities that cover a long list of topics.
This year's students were all from Gridley High: Kelsey Cunha, Greta Hepworth and Dallin Havens.
The three students described the different activities they enjoyed such as the difference between being an analytical, conceptual, structural or social person.
“This was a life changing experience, bettering yourself,” Cunha told Rotary members. “We are grateful you sent us.”
Students at RYLA got to know each other through introductory games and by the end of the week they knew practically everything there was to know. Students could open up about their feelings and know that it wouldn't go any further as they sat with total strangers. The three Gridley students were in separate groups.
“We learned how to help people, how to help ourselves and be a better person,” Hepworth stated.
“We learned we should not be mean. It was a wake-up call to throw out first impressions and accept people,” Cunha interjected.
Havins stated he enjoyed the ice breaking introductions when people gave their aspirations and goals. He also enjoyed the square dancing, something many had not done before.
They played games for teamwork which brought the 90-100 students together and learned to trust by climbing a 60 foot tower and jumping with a rope around them. They climbed ladders with the rungs five feet apart and they built bicycles for underprivileged children they met to present the bicycles to.
“It was refreshing to see the enthusiasm. I gave a little girl a bike and she didn't know how to ride it but she was still so excited. Teaching her how to ride a bike was amazing,” Hepworth stated.
All three students are members of Gridley Rotary's Interact Club.