Nearly two years since their launch, Roundhay School Interact in Leeds is making a positive impact on students and local communities.
The group gets together most Wednesdays at lunchtime to discuss and plan projects and events. During the course of the 2022-23 academic year, the students have stayed busy raising funds, volunteering their time and creating connections with other students and the community.
Building on the success of the previous year, they repeated their uniform recycling programme where student leavers donate clean school uniforms in good condition for incoming Year 7 students. Interact students coordinate the collection, create marketing and communications and run the event from start to finish. Donations are welcome, but not necessary and any money received goes towards Interact projects. They plan to repeat this again in July.
Other projects at Roundhay School include sourcing and planting an English oak tree to commemorate the late Queen’s platinum jubilee. They club also partnered with the school’s Eco club to do a beach clean-up project and created a display to inform other people in the school about what they learned.
The group also gets involved with Roundhay Rotary projects. Interact members prepared and served supper to over 100 participants at a wine-tasting fundraiser and ran the family-friendly face painting activity at the annual beer festival, raising money for their efforts. Interact students also get the opportunity to attend Roundhay Rotary meetings.
With their fundraising money, the club sent £500 to a school in Sri Lanka and are now looking at ways to help a local charity which supports young people with mobility issues. They have built links with CATCH Leeds, a local charity, and sponsored a goat there. The goats provide an opportunity for young people from disadvantaged parts of the community to work together and care for animals–developing team building skills and a real sense of responsibility.
Roundhay Rotary member Jean Clennell is the Interact lead and part of the club’s youth and community committee. She retired 9 years ago as deputy head from Roundhay School and says that having that link has been important to launching and sustaining the Interact club.
She advises that Rotary clubs work with schools where they already have a connection. She believes going into a school “cold” without that existing link can be difficult. It can take a lot of time to build trust and connection.
Initial recruitment for the club began when Jean went to the school to give a presentation about Rotary and Interact. 21 students joined and their membership has grown to 25 with most students currently in Year 11. Most Interact members are staying into 6th Form and there are plans to recruit incoming Year 9 students and create a buddy system between them and the older students.
One of the advantages students find being in Interact is that they get to meet other people in their year who they don’t already know and have never had any interactions with. The club provides a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and create new friendships.
“As they’ve gotten older, they’ve realised that they want to be part of a team of people who help other people, or animals or whatever it happens to be,” says Jean. “I think they feel committed to doing good deeds.”
Right now, Interact is the place that helps them do just that.
Find out more about Roundhay Rotary and Interact
The Rotary Club of Roundhay Leeds | We are People of Action (roundhayrotaryclub.co.uk)
Rebecca A Mendoza is a freelance writer and member of York Rotary. You can learn more about her work at www.rebeccaamendoza.com