Rotary Club of Norwich helps young people maximise their potential

Derek James takes a look at some of the fantastic projects run by the Rotary Club of Norwich for young people.

All too often young people make the headlines for the wrong reasons.

But during my year as the Sheriff of Norwich, visiting numerous community projects, I've seen first-hand the inspiring contribution made by young people who give up something most precious to benefit others and our fine city – their time.

And the Rotary Club of Norwich is one organisation that is dedicated to helping young people maximise their potential.

From drug awareness educational projects to inter-school competitions, to sponsoring young people to help them see the world and help those less fortunate than themselves, the Rotary Club of Norwich should be applauded for the work that it does.

One example is the annual technology tournament, pictured, which is organised together with the Rotary Clubs of Norwich St Edmund and Reepham. It took place on March 11 at the Hewett School and 80 young people, in teams of four, tackled a design-and -make project, based on the solution to a real-life practical problem.

Sight unseen until the day, they had to simulate the recovery of a container of radioactive materials from a train crash, which required the building of a model crane.

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Not only did it tax the young people's brain cells, but it also brought together secondary age pupils from the Hewett School, Norwich School, City of Norwich School, Reepham High School and Ormiston Victory Academy.

'Every solution was different, showing that young people can be innovative when given the opportunity,' David Riddle of the Rotary Club of Norwich tells me.

And that's just for starters.

An education project, Drugbusters, is a scheme in which the club is working closely with the Matthew Project in order to heighten the awareness of young people, in Norwich schools, of the dangers of drug misuse.

In September, the club is sponsoring a young person to take part in the Rotary Youth Leaders Award Scheme, which is designed to improve the leadership and team building skills of 18 to 26-year-olds.

A new competition, the inter-schools music competition, is due to take place on April 1. Framingham Earl High School, Hethersett High School and Reepham High School will be taking part, each choir singing three songs of their own choosing. Four very well qualified musicians will be adjudicating and it's hoped it will become an annual event.

The Rotary Club of Norwich also gives financial support to young people who are engaged in charitable works overseas via the Youth Study Awards.

One recent awardee travelled to Nicaragua and worked with Salud Sin Limite, which is the local branch of the Health Unlimited project.

She was helping to prevent HIV among young people by promoting awareness of risky behaviour and methods of prevention, plus encouraging community-wide discussions.

She was also involved in training young people to continue with the programme.

The Rotary Young Chef competition requires young people up to the age of 18 to produce a three-course meal for two people within two hours.

The winner of the first round was Elise Mabbutt of Aylsham High School. She was up against tough competition from CNS and Framingham Earl High School. Elise, who is only 14, went forward to the Rotary Regional Final, this Saturday just gone .

And Rotary Youth Speaks is a public speaking competition where teams comprising a chairman, a speaker and a proposer of a vote of thanks compete against each other.

After a closely fought competition, also involving Sewell Park College and Notre Dame High School in January, the intermediate and senior sections were won by teams from Norwich School. Both teams went on to the Rotary District 1080 final on February 12 in Bury St Edmunds to win yet again.

And they will now be going on to the Rotary regional final to be held on Saturday April 2 at Hertford.

Who says that young people are only interested in computer games and Facebook?