Rotary Sunrise Sponsors Youth Delegation in the Bahamas RYLA

There is no better way to empower young people than to strengthen their leadership skills. The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise, in collaboration with its youth wings sponsored three youth representatives to participate in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) conference in the Bahamas from February 24-26, 2017. The representatives included the president of the Interact Club of Sundial Shanda Browne, the president and the treasurer of the Early Act Club of Hillside Christian School, Geanah Gumbs and Zanzi Brook and their advisors Ms. Satya Mahadeo and Ms. Stephanie Deerveld.

Every year, Rotary Clubs in the region and internationally organize RYLA conferences aimed at providing an effective training experience for selected youth and potential leaders; recognise young people who render their services to their communities and; encourage leadership of youth by coaching, mentoring and linking them with role models.  The RYLA conference held in Nassau, Bahamas at the Windsor School and Melia hotel featured workshops and talks on the importance of effective communication skills in leadership, team building activities, the fundamentals of leadership, and problem solving and conflict management to name a few.  The various talks and workshops were directed at improving the leadership skills and strategic alignment – how Rotary enables its youth clubs (Interact and EarlyAct) to bring together leaders for humanitarian and community services.

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The participants learned the “why, what, how, who, and when” of a broad array of service tasks, from how to help one’s community to helping on a global scale. The importance of effective communication skills, a boot camp session to get to know each other, get some exercise, conduct a beach clean-up were just a few of the first day’s activities.

During the second day, the delegation experienced two riveting real life stories entitled ‘From Prison to Harvard’ which featured two former gang members, with one who spoke about how he now works at Harvard University after a young life spent in prison. Counsellors from the Ministry of Education were also present to discuss how leaders defuse conflict and problem solve. The delegation also learned the 12-step process to effective communication and conflict resolution including (1. Watch for warning signs, 2. Don’t assume you know what’s going on, 3. Start a friendly conversation, 4. Listen to what the other person is saying, 5. Remain calm, 6. Try to see the other person’s point of view, 7. Echo what you’ve heard, 8. When you are wrong, admit it, 9. Characterise your point of view, 10. Ask the other person’s advice, 11. Express your own ideas for resolving problems, and 12. Come to agreement on the next steps) for defusing conflict before it gets out of hand. Some of these leadership lessons will be shared a workshop that the Early Actors will be organizing for their peers in St. Maarten on March 25th at the school.

President of Rotary Sunrise, Drs. Okama Ekpe Brook is grateful to Ms. Mahadeo and Mrs. Deerveld for accompanying the youth on this life changing experience, the Hillside Christian School and Sundial School boards and for all the ongoing support provided to coach and mentor the Early Actors and Interactors.


The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise meets every Tuesday at the Ginger Bread Café Restaurant,  Belair Beach Hotel  from 7:00AM to 8:00AM. For more information on the club, visit our website at or email su***************@ho*****.com. We are also on Facebook: Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise.