Mission's Lindsay Lloyd says her experience at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards

Homegrown leaders get helping hand

Rotary programs inspire new generation in Mission

It was an Oprah segment on sex trafficking that got Mission’s Lindsay Lloyd interested in the subject and spurred her to organize an event to promote awareness of the issue.

That was several years ago.

Today, three years after graduating from Heritage Park secondary school in 2011, Lloyd continues to be involved in the issue, thanks in part to local programs like the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), which is now taking applications, and Rotaract, a rotary-sponsored club for men and women between the ages of 18 and 30.

Last May, Lloyd attended International RYLA, which was held in Australia and welcomed delegates from across the globe.

Lloyd, who volunteers at Mission Memorial Hospital and is studying to become a psychiatric nurse, said the conference was inspiring. Delegates were connected with like-minded people, a process that Lloyd said allowed her to develop contacts and gain valuable insights into how other young leaders work to improve the world.

“It was amazing to meet other people who had the same interests as me,” she said.

The conference was held in Sydney’s Olympic Stadium and included a range of distinguished speakers, including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“It was great to see people who had done everything that I want to do and it was inspiring to know I could do it too if I really tried,” Lloyd said. “It was great to be in that atmosphere with people who wanted to make a difference in the world.”

While there is no International RYLA in 2015, Rotary District 5050 holds an annual four-day RYLA event in Washington State, where participants meet at a retreat to grow as leaders and listen to professional speakers. Lloyd previously attended the event and said it also provides an experience that is hard to find.

“You exchange ideas and you do activities together in those four days. It’s really intense.”

Lloyd – who was a founding member of the Fraser Valley Rotaract club – said she developed friendships and remains in touch with people she met during the event.

“When you’re between the ages of 18 and 30 … your life changes a lot. To meet other people who are going through the same things but are also proactive and want to accomplish things and make a difference in the world in a positive way, it motivates you as well.”

Rotary member Ken Selvaraja says it’s important for today’s leaders to help a younger generation build upon their leadership skills.

“The baton has to be passed,” he said.

“We have a great community in Mission, but we have to work at it.”

For more information on RYLA, visit www.ryla5050.org.