Already we’re into September!  Kevin and I have visited about 20 Clubs thus far and have plans to visit another 12 in the next few weeks.  Each visit is so interesting.
What we love is the fact that each Club has its own personality.  We are always warmly welcomed and members are keen to tell us about their projects, their successes, their areas of focus, their challenges. I’m delighted at the openness to doing things differently to achieve a different outcome.
One common theme is the fact that all Clubs without exception have youth and improving educational outcomes as a key focus.  This month of course is Supporting Education Month.  As Rotarians, and quoting from the RI website, “our goal is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy. We support education for all children and literacy for children and adults”.
In our Clubs this happens in a range of ways.  A favourite project, ably led by Joy Durrant, is Dictionaries in Schools – as relevant now as it ever was.  This has been added to with the Usborne First Atlas, through the Bill and Lorna Boyd Charitable Trust. 
Clubs tell me about the heart warming experience of handing these and other books out to children who may not have owned their own book before. Rotarians love the opportunity to go into schools and read too. 
Many Clubs are offering scholarships that enable students to advance their learning in ways they might not otherwise have been able to.
Our District supports education in many other ways as well.  A few weeks ago we had the privilege of attending the annual Porirua Leadership Awards.  This event is organised by Plimmerton and Porirua Rotary Clubs and is very special.  Each Primary school in the area, many lower decile, is encouraged to identify students who demonstrate leadership qualities. These students, along with their families, attended a very special event where the Families Commissioner, Judge Andrew Beecroft inspired the children and they were presented with an award – and a Rotary Opens Opportunities pin – by the Mayor and Yours Truly. Rotary does indeed open opportunities when we see the impact of our programmes.  Plimmerton Rotary is very keen to share their well honed template for this amazing event.  It would be great if it were taken up in other areas.  Do let me know if you’re interested.
Our Youth Programmes are thriving.  While some such as RYE are currently impacted by COVID, others such as RLYA, RYPEN, IYM, the Science and Technology Forum are actively planning. If your Club is not involved with any of these programmes please explore them.  Your AGs will be able to help.
A common discussion theme as we move around Clubs is of course the impact of COVID 19 on our communities.  I am very keen to make community recovery a key focus for this year. I believe we in Rotary have such as wealth of skill, knowledge, networks and experience in a wide range of industry and service areas. We could have a huge impact in supporting our communities in their recovery.  I am asking Clubs to consult with their communities and identify particular needs that we can bring our knowledge and skill to make a difference in recovery.  Our Community Service and Vocational Service Committees are making this a key focus.  Please discuss in your Clubs specific areas of need and perhaps we as a District can provide the scale to address it.
Continue to Open Opportunities within your Clubs and your communities.  It’s what we do best!
 DG Gillian