Education is a key focus of many Rotary Clubs across the world. Belize’s Rotarians have also embarked on several projects in this area and also collaborate with the Ministry of Education. As part of his tour in Belize this week, Rotary International President Barry Rassin is visiting some of these projects in Belize City. His stops this morning include the Port Loyola Library and the St. John Vianney School. Just as the club members work with young people, Rotary also has a youth arm. Rotary International President Rassin shared some views on the clubs.
Barry Rassin: We have Rotaract in the high schools, Rotaract in universities and in communities and the goal is actually to double of this year because we have 250,000 Rotaractors. What’s very important is that we significantly increase the number of Rotaract clubs especially community based so that we get the young professionals involved in service and understanding Rotary so that they will then after Rotaract join a Rotary club. We need to get much better at involving the young people to the point that they want continue with Rotary after Rotaract and therefore we increase our number in Rotary and we also get young people in Rotary so Rotaract is critical to where we are going for the future.
Rassin adds that there have been several changes in the rules governing the youth clubs to enable a smoother transition from the Rotaract to the Rotary club.
Barry Rassin: In 2016 our legislative body, the council on legislation changed a lot of rules to allow Rotary Clubs and Rotaract Clubs to be much more flexible in the way they work so that we could really create a club that is very pertinent and appropriate to their members as to what makes them enthusiastic. One of those changes was to enable a young person and Rotaract is from 18- 30 normally. We don’t have Rotary police so they do get a little older than that and that’s ok but what we want to make sure is they transition from Rotaract to Rotary so one of the things that they allowed was that a Rotaractor can join a rotary club while they are still in Rotaract. Rotaract to me is where a young person kind of puts their foot in the water, gets a feel for what Rotary is all about and if they are happy with that and we need to make sure they are then they want to be a part of rotary. By joining a Rotary club at the same time it gives them a feel for both and they can kind of have a foot in one door and a foot in the other door and at some point they can say yes I love Rotary as well; I am going to go and be a full time Rotarian so it’s a way for young people to get started, get involved, get a feel. They might join one club and feel maybe another club is better for them and that’s okay, thats what we need to help them do so it’s an effort to get young people to take that step forward to join a Rotary club while there still comfortable in Rotaract.
Many young Belizeans are presently part of Rotaract Clubs across Belize.