Pictured from L-R 2019 Participants in RYLA / YRYLA (not pictured Jayette Carter) 1st Row: Nikolle Kussatz (2019 YRYLA), Isabella Van Donselaar (2019 RYLA), Mason Murphy (2019 RYLA), Ethan Morgan (2019 YRYLA), 2nd Row: Johanna Leonard (YRYLA Presenter), Ella Rankin (2019 YRYLA), Nash Linsley (2019 RYLA), Faith Hatch (2019 RYLA), Park Woodle (Volunteer 2019 RYLA), Gary Anderson (Co-Chair), T. Waldmann-Williams (Co-Chair and 2019 YRYLA Presenter)

Recipients and participating Rotarians of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) Conference and Young Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (YRYLA) Camp shared their experiences with club, parents and school officials at the Rotary Club of Knoxville’s weekly meeting on August 14.

All present were moved by the comments of the students including, “I went out of my comfort zone ... I found how important it is to participate and be in community”; “... I learned to empathize better from those who shared their story. I think we must understand from where others are coming, to have a team and a community”; “... learning about myself was important because now I know what I need on a team to make it a better team”; “... guided activities taught me how important it is to rely on others, I can’t do it all by myself. ...”; “... the activities taught me I can learn from everything...”.; “After each activity we debriefed the activity to understand our strengths and weaknesses (areas of improvement)”: “We always started with speakers in the morning and I didn’t know if I would be awake to hear them, but they captivated me from the beginning ...”;

The Club has sponsored high school students for the RYLA Conference starting in 2014 and middle school students for YRYLA Camp since 2017, with 34 students attending primarily from Knoxville.

This year, there were four others who participated including Gary Anderson as the Club’s Co-Chair of RYLA-YRYLA; Park Woodle, Rotarian and one of 22 team volunteers at RYLA; Johanna Leonard, 2017 YRYLA participant; and T. Waldmann-Williams, Club Co-Chair RYLA-YRYLA.

Woodle shared his challenges with health at RYLA. Leonard presented the word “Community” at 2019 YRYLA challenging the participants to get involved in their community, such as the RYLA-YRYLA Winter Wonder Run or volunteering at the movie theatre. Waldmann-Williams presented an experiential hour at YRYLA on how questions, tension management and change are important to learning about one’s competencies, such as skills, knowledge, and characteristics, and to better lead a team.Recruiting and recommending students for 2020 RYLA-YRYLA will begin around February 2020.

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