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Rotary set for RYLA 2019, to empower Nigerian youths


According to a 2018 report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the unemployment rate in Nigeria surged to 23.1 per cent from 20.42 per cent in December 2017, and this is despite an estimated total of 500,000 graduates produced by tertiary institutions in the country yearly.

As part of its intervention, Rotary International, District 9110 has unveiled plans for this year’s Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), which plans to empower over 400 youths at the 35th edition of the project. This year’s event will have the wife of Lagos State Governor, Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, and wife of Ogun State Governor, Bamidele Abiodun as mothers of the day.

Speaking at a media parley held in Lagos to herald the initiative, Chairman 2019 RYLA Committee, Rotarian Abiodun Oshinibosi said the prize of honour, and innovation celebration of outstanding excellence in youths are some of the many new things coming in this year’s RYLA.


“The attention to detail, the expanded booth camp, to accommodate more than 400 participants, skills training, and an exciting line of guest speakers will make this year’s RYLA the best ever,” he said.
RYLA 2019 comprises of a boot camp, which holds from November 23 to December 1, and prize of honour, which holds on November 24. While Mrs Sanwo-Olu will be the mother of the day on November 24, her Ogun State counterpart will be the mother of the day on December 1.
The award, according to the organisers, has three core areas of focus: leadership, citizenship, and personal development. There would be prizes of honour in categories such as agriculture, technology, sport, entrepreneurship, citizenship, acting, and music.

The S&D Executive, MTN Nigeria, Kunle Adebiyi will be the Keynote Speaker on an opening day, while the Commercial Director, Guinness Nigeria, Tsola Barrow, will be the keynote speaker on December 1.

Some of the facilitators expected at the event include Kunle Afolayan, Kate Henshaw, Opeyemi Awoyemi, Pascal Dike, Bellarose Okojie, and others.

According to the organisers, booth camp participants will camp for eight days at Sea School, Apapa, Lagos.
Speaking on the event, District Governor 9110, Jide Akeredolu, said, “we want to identify youths that have excelled and celebrate them. These youths have remained in their various fields uncelebrated but this year, we want to bring them out to the world to appreciate their contributions. So, it’s going to be extremely exciting; it’s going to be an RYLA with a difference. We have more than 35,000 clubs all over the world and any Rotarian can walk into any of the clubs and have instant friends, and that is what we mean by the diverse nature and the fellowship that we grow in rotary.” 

On her part, the district’s Rotaract representative, Rotaractor Constance Ifekemi Jaiyeola, said, “we want the youths to learn different skills so that they will be able to lead wherever they are. There is different youths empowerment programme for this year’s RYLA; we have a workshop where they can learn recycling to soap making, tailoring, makeup, and gele tying, baking and others. It depends on the interest of the youth to decide which of the vocational training he or she wants to have.”
The Rotary leadership award is a programme that has been going on interruptedly since inception in 1971 for youths to acquire leadership skills in their area of vocation.

Back in 1959, the state government of Queensland, Australia, invited local Rotary Clubs to help plan an event to help celebrate the upcoming centennial of the state. Princess Alexandra, who was in her early 20s, was due to attend the celebrations, so activities were planned specifically for the princess’s age group.

The Gundoo, an aboriginal word meaning “festival” or “fun together,” was deemed successful with more than 300 men and women between the ages of 17 and 23 attending. Encouraged by the event’s popularity with the young attendees, Rotary saw the potential to create an annual youth program based on Gundoo. The governor of the then-District 260, Art Brand, approved the project and on 2 May 1960, and RYLA became an official Rotary project.


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