Snowflakes are really special, and this year (which has been a tough year for so many) our Club wanted to show its support for local youngsters using this beautiful symbol of uniqueness.
We at the Rotary Club of Canterbury believe that each and every generation can offer something to the community that comes from their own experiences and knowledge – and we like to support young people where we can.
The word "snowflake" is often used as a derogatory term in the media, especially for the young. But for everyone, this year has been a hard one. While most of our Members have probably been concerned about self-isolating and lockdown, young people have been concerned about their exams, studies, job prospects, curtailment of their normal socialisation, a loss of contact with grandparents & others, and various other issues. Those from less-well off families have had financial struggles too if income has been affected (Saturday jobs, newspaper deliveries etc.) and, as we know, there are concerns over mental health and domestic abuse because of lockdown.
To show our solidarity for youngsters, especially those from some of the local families that have been struggling most as a result of the pandemic, Members of our Club collated some words of motivation, encouragement and positivity that we thought youngsters might appreciate. These were added onto custom-designed "snowflakes" by one of our Members so that they could be printed out and serve as a little cut-out activity for kids; for example, the snowflakes could be coloured in and hung from a tree.
These snowflakes, along with a list of all the "quotes", will be popped into parcels being sent out by the Prince of Wales Youth Club to families in the local community. Our Club has already donated towards this tremendous effort, and has also just sent another donation from our dining funds. (The Youth Club is also sending parcels to some elderly members of the community).
On receiving the "snowflakes" Joey Wicks, coordinator at the Youth Club, said "they are great and the children will be over the moon to get a Christmas activity. The quotes are fantastic!"
The words were also put into a "wordcloud" generator to make a Snowflake of Positivity (see picture). We truly hope the this will bring some Christmas cheer.
We also have some exciting plans for the year ahead for young people - notably the launch of our Innovation Competition and a brand NEW essay competition, so look out for news of both!
This is not all we do for youngsters - each year our Club carries out a number of activities aimed at young people (though this year we’ve had to make some changes because of the pandemic).
Just before Christmas we hold a story writing competition for primary school children; we usually assist the English Speaking Union with its Schools’ Public Speaking competition; and, as mentioned and in collaboration with Canterbury Christ Church University, we run the Innovation Competition.
Our Club also (usually) supports two local youngsters to go on our Mini Group Study Exchange with youngsters chosen by our Pentangular partners, allowing them to learn about the other countries and build good relationships into the future. We have supported the Prince of Wales Youth Club on a number of occasions and have regularly supported a local special school with outings for their youngsters. We have also helped youngsters to prepare for interviews and consulted with teachers on how we can help their work. Through RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) we have also supported the development of leadership skills. On top of this we have a Millennium Trust Fund to help selected youngsters carry out charity work overseas; last year, because of travel restrictions due to the pandemic, we changed the rules on who can receive this, making some funds available to certain other individuals.
We've also helped youngsters in other countries: our Joint Pentangular Project has supported the education of youngsters in a school in South Sudan; in Bangladesh, we’ve helped support the distribution of hygiene kits (together with health information) to girls/young women; in Bhutan we've helped support disabled children and children with special needs in a school there; and in Zambia we've helped to engage young people with conservation - particularly in areas where wildlife is threatened by wildlife-community conflict.
There are also other times when we’ve helped local youngsters over the years. For example, one seriously ill child was helped to enjoy her birthday, another child given a tablet to use for school during lockdown. We’ve supported a team in the F1 in Schools competition, a prospective Olympic sportswoman, as well as a guider who was travelling overseas to raise money for their own charity. Care leavers were supported in a special Christmas Dinner, and through support of domestic violence charity Rising Sun we've helped those who are affected by domestic violence. We’ve helped one young person help little owls and even helped another school take pictures of its wildlife! And of course, we usually hold our Annual Duck Race at Westgate, which allows all generations to come together and enjoy a fun, family event (while raising funds at the same time!)
We know that times have changed and some of our work might have to be adjusted, but just as young people are doing, we continue to strive to find a new way forward.
You can read more about our regular activities for young people here.
If you have a great idea for how we might be able to help young people, contact us here.
Picture: The wordcloud image that was generated from our Members' words of positivity. Picture credit: Rotary Club of Canterbury.