Lunchtime Meeting - 12.45pm - Speaker RYLA Student Harry Gardner

Mon 25th September 2017 at 12.30 - 14.00

Jayne Middleton's speaker today was Harry Gardner, our RYLA student from The Marches Academy.

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Each year around 10,000 young people are sponsored through RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) programmes by Rotary Clubs in over 25 countries worldwide.  Oswestry Rotary club sponsored Marches' student Harry Gardner to attend RYLA 2017, a residential course held at the Arthog outdoor educational centre in Mid-Wales from Sunday 20th August to Friday 25th August.  It was intended that this event should be a catalyst to helping Harry develop leadership skills along with around 40 other young people from a wide area of North and Mid-Wales, Shropshire, Cheshire, the Wirral and Merseyside who also took part.

The main aim of the course was to provide young people aged 16 - 18 with an insight into key aspects of their personal development during the transition from school-life to higher education or the world of employment. Over the past 18 years Rotary in our area (District 1180) has helped over 500 students pass through this process with a very high success rate in terms of positive outcomes – particularly in subsequent interviewing processes, for example for a university place.

Harry came to Oswestry Rotary club's meeting on Monday 25th September to give the members a presentation about his experience.  Harry is 17 and studying Physics, Chemistry and Maths A levels in the Upper Sixth at the Marches Academy with a view to studying Engineering at University, with Birmingham the favourite.

He had gone along to Arthog quite an underconfident young man, but he recognised that he needed to build confidence, improve his teamwork and gain leadership and better social skills.  Having filled in a 'Belbin' team roles questionnaire Harry learned that he has strong analytical qualities and soon became a valued member of his team of 10, acting as the financial manager as they learned business skills whilst buying components of a raft with virtual money for the final day's race challenge.  In addition the young people bonded over activities such as orienteering and rock-climbing.

"Going to RYLA was like being thrown in at the deep end - I struggled with my confidence and talking to 40 people I had never met before was hard for me. Getting to know my team and problem-solving together helped and we all encouraged each other in the competitive elements.  I now have much more confidence than before and a group of good friends - RYLA has changed my life" said Harry.

Anita Wyatt, Sixth Form Student Support Coordinator at The Marches, accompanied Harry to the Rotary meeting and thoroughly enjoyed it and was very proud of Harry. "There is no way he would have been able to have stand up and present to a room full of people prior to his RYLA experience. We are very grateful for your ongoing sponsorship of our students and the transformative effect it has on them." she said.


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