Last night a group of young ‘Interactors’ from Ballina Coast High School were acknowledged by the Rotary Club of Ballina on Richmond for their service to the local community, with a presentation of T shirts and certificates at the Ballina RSL Club.
In a year in which studying (and community service) was dominated and interrupted by COVID-19, the first batch of Interactors focused on raising awareness of domestic violence, supporting homeless people with care packs, and writing personalised cards for those attending the Hot Meal Centre.
Karen Stanton is Ballina Rotary’s Youth Director and the Chair of the Interact Committee. She explained Interact was like a junior version of Rotary. ‘It introduces students to the idea that we’re here not just for ourselves, but for the community as a whole. It’s for anyone from the age of 12-18.’
Ms Stanton said it was heartening to see how many students had decided to become involved in the first year, in spite of COVID.
She said the individually created hand-made cards presented to Hot Meal Centre patrons were a highlight.
Col Lee is the President of the Rotary Club of Ballina on Richmond. He acknowledged the beautiful messages provided by the Interactors to those attending the Ballina Hot Meal Centre who were doing it tough, which resulted in some ‘wonderful feedback’ and congratulated the assembled young people for taking their first steps into community service.
Janeen Silcock is the Principal of Ballina Coast High School. She said she had no hesitation encouraging her students to get involved with Interact.
‘Australia’s backbone is built on volunteers, and clubs like Rotary support that ethos of looking after your community as well as yourself. This is about establishing that in an inter-generational way,’ she said.
‘We’ve always said that our purpose in life is to raise good men and women who will go out into the world and contribute meaningfully to the lives of others as well as themselves. This epitomises that,’ said Ms Silcock.
Young Interactors present on the night ranged from years 7-12. Thomaz Westaway is an Interactor in Year 12 at Ballina Coast High School. He said the club can help out in the community in any positive way. He’s been interested and involved since May.
Student Indiana Whittleton also joined Interact this year. ‘It’s about helping the community and trying to improve things for people,’ she said.
The Interact Coordinator for Ballina Coast High School, Scott Hales, received the chain of office on behalf of the club president.
Mr Hales told The Echo his hope for the future was to get more schools across the region actively involved.