Mike: Rotary strongly supports young people in our community and around the world. Rotary’s Fifth Avenue of Service is New Generations. Rotary works with children from the ages of 12 to 30 to help them become leaders of the future. Locally, our club has just sponsored an Interact Club for young adults at Lake of the Woods School. In its first year, there are over twenty participants in the program. The participants learn about leadership skills, learning a job, improving social skills, and doing community and world projects. The club sends one outstanding student annually for one week to a Rotary Youth Leadership Camp at the University of Minnesota-Crookston. This student receives intense immersion into life skills training. The Rotary Club helped sponsor a workshop on bullying. Rotarians are mentors for job shadowing. Dictionaries are distributed to the third grade classes at Lake of the Woods, Indus and Rainy River schools, so our young people can broaden their language skills. We have hosted Rotary Youth Exchange students, so our local students can learn from students from other countries. Our community and school produce good students who have gone on to become leaders of their generation. If we can help students become better people through making good choices, we can feel good about our efforts as Rotarians.
Why do you feel strongly that the youth in our community should be alcohol, tobacco and drug free?
Mike: Our youth are learning their life skills. They will be making hundreds of choices in the next few years that may impact their health, friends, future employment opportunities, and schooling. Alcohol, tobacco and drugs will challenge their personal life. They will need support from their parents, friends and community leaders so they can make the right choices and be productive youth.
In your own words, tell what the Lake of the Woods County Prevention Coalition does.
Mike: The LWPC mission is to help our youth be alcohol, tobacco and drug free. The coalition consists of government agencies, ministerial, law enforcement, social services, school staff, parents, students, health care staff, media, business and civic groups. Each representative brings his or her expertise and experiences to the table. Collectively, the group has many assets and resources that they can bring into the process. The coalition has administered surveys to students and community members. They held instructional meetings for liquor outlets and supported the compliance checks. The coalition has received significant youth buy-in to the benefits of being alcohol, tobacco and drug free. The coalition youth group, S.T.U.Ds, has hosted several youth activities that were well attended and successful.
If underage drinking is reduced in our county, what impact could it have in your work or the sector of the community that you are representing on the coalition?
Mike: Rotary is represented by many business people. They are always seeking the best and brightest students. LWPC will help provide more youth with good learning and decision making skills.