CHARLES TWEED/Ponoka News
One couldn’t help but get excited right along with Rachel Selke as she told stories about the Rotary Youth Leadership Award conference she attended at the University of Calgary May 12 to 15.
“It was really fun and the theme of the weekend was Walk a Mile in My Shoes. It really focused on showing empathy,” said Selke. “It really encouraged me to get involved more and come up with more ideas on how I can help in the community.”
Her smile was infectious and she radiated positive energy as she spoke about all of the new people she met.
“All of the people there were balcony friends (a reference to the type of friends that help lift others up). That’s one of the reasons I’ll be friends with them for a really long time,” said Selke.
The Ponoka Rotary Club sponsored Selke’s trip to Calgary and she extended her appreciation for the opportunity to take part in such a positive experience.
“It was a really good weekend and I got so much out of it, I’m thankful I got a chance to go and I definitely think they should keep doing it,” said Selke.
Rotary club past president Gord Friesen thought it was important to encourage youth leaders in the community.
“Youth believe they can make a huge difference and it’s wonderful to see what they can do with just a little bit of encouragement,” said Friesen.
The conference was such a good experience that Friesen expects the Rotary Club to take part in a few more programs including RYPEN, a four-day camp that promotes leadership in youth. He also said the conference is already on the club’s radar for next year.
“We’re definitely going to do it again and we’d also like to promote an international group from ages 13 to 18 in Ponoka. It’ll give them a chance to connect with youths in other countries,” said Friesen.
If the optimism and energy Rachel Selke displayed is any indication, the programs are on the right track.