This September's New Generations Month takes on a different meaning than in the past.
The commitment to getting youth and young adults actively involved in Rotary was strengthened in April when representatives at the Council on Legislation approved New Generations as the fifth Avenue of Service. Read more.
RI President Ray Klinginsmith says the new Avenue of Service improves the value of youth programs and their impact on Rotary's future.
"The Council wanted to be sure New Generations programs were given adequate attention by clubs," says Klinginsmith. "Rotarians just want to be up front and recognize the importance of these programs. New Generations isn't just important to the future of Rotary but also our communities and the world."
New Generations Service acknowledges the positive change implemented by youth and young adults involved in leadership development activities, community and international service, and exchange programs that enrich and foster world peace and cultural understanding. Programs include RYLA, Rotaract, Interact, and Rotary Youth Exchange.
"We truly have the finest youth programs in the world," says Klinginsmith. "Their intrinsic value continues to escalate. We do a great job with these programs, we just need to give them more visibility."
This month is a chance to celebrate the new Avenue of Service, says Vicki Puliz, chair of New Generations Service for District 5190 (parts of California and Nevada, USA).
"News of the Council's decision was welcomed with excitement and enthusiasm by Rotarians in our district," says Puliz. "We are using this as a way to emphasize how Rotary International views New Generations and its importance. It's a springboard to communicate even more with our clubs about these programs."
Virtually every club in her district is involved with one or more of the four youth programs. A wide range of district programs fall under the New Generations umbrella, says Puliz.
"Focusing more on youth is crucial for Rotary to thrive and survive," she says. "It's one of the reasons why we have programs on literacy, leadership training, and ethics for young people."
She recommends that every club appoint a New Generations Service chair. "We've learned that our youth programs benefit from communication and coordination," says Puliz.
New Generations joins Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service, and International Service as an Avenue of Service. Before starting a project, Rotarians are asked to think broadly about how their club and its members could contribute within each avenue.
Klinginsmith says the best clubs are the ones that are well balanced.
"Strong clubs are involved in all five of the Avenues of Service," he says. "The ones that don't have New Generations programs are missing a part of the great adventure of Rotary."