Posted by John Reyes
Many of you are aware that youth protection and safety is a high priority of Rotary International, District 6630, and all of our clubs and members. You may be less aware that Rotary International mandates youth safety protections be implemented for all Rotary related youth activities, events, and contacts.
Rotary International has published a Youth Protection Guide for many years and provides a variety of resources to support this guide including a sample Youth Protection Policy, Abuse and Harassment Allegation Reporting Guidelines, Sample Youth Program Volunteer Application, and many additional resources.
Rotary International strives to create and maintain a safe environment for all youth participating in Rotary activities. To the best of our ability, Rotarians, Rotarians’ spouses, and other volunteers must safeguard the children and young people we come into contact with and protect them from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
In District 6630 this information has been supplied, including the Rotary Youth Protection Guide, to all Presidents-Elect at the P.E.T.S. 1 events for a number of years. Rotary International upgraded its emphasis on training for District Governors-Elect at International Assembly on this topic in recent years as well.
As a result, as the District 6630 May 2019 Board meeting, at the request of then-Governor Beverly Ghent-Skrzynski, the Board created a Youth Protection Committee. The members of the committee are John Reyes, Chair, District Governor, Pay Myers, District Governor-Elect, Larry Lohman, District Governor Nominee, David Jones, District Governor Nominee Designate, Julie Brandle, Past District Governor Beverly Ghent-Skrzynski, Dana DeCapite, Bob Heydorn, Sheila Hedrick, Ryan Knotts, Robert Oborn, Chelsea Talty, Nate Watson, and Fran Zettl. This committee has been working to create both the Youth Protection Policy and methods to implement it.
District 6630 starts with an excellent foundation in its safety programs for the Youth Exchange. These programs are well-developed, tested, and implemented. Special thanks are due to Bob Heydorn, Sheila Hedrick, and Patrick Kelly, and Susan Colville-Hall, among others.
However, the District does not have a similarly detailed or established program relating to other youth-related activities such as RYLA, Interact, the 4-Way Test Speech Contest, and a wide variety of club-related youth activities.
After considerable effort, the Youth Protection Committee presented to the District 6630 Board of Directors a comprehensive Youth Protection Policy in May of 2020 and the same has been adopted. You can find this policy on the District website under District Operations in the left bar or click here to access. Please note the Policy is only one part of the resources that are and soon will be available to assist the District in implementing it. The Youth Protection Committee is at the point where a rollout to all clubs in the District will begin soon.
The Youth Protection Committee members ask you to save the dates of either Wednesday, August 18 at 6:00 p.m. or Saturday, September 18, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. to attend an initial orientations session regarding the content and implementation of the policy. These meetings will be a first step and they will be duplicative so attending either one will suffice. However, every club must have at least two club members attend at least one of these meetings. Both meetings will be held via Zoom. While there will be no cost, registration information will be forthcoming.
This raises the question of who should attend. Each club should have its Club President in attendance and if a President-Elect is in place, the President-Elect should also attend.
A new requirement, which you will find in the Youth Protection Policy, requires each club to have a Youth Protection Officer and where appropriate, a Youth Protection Committee. If there is no Youth Protection Officer, the Club President automatically fills this roll. The position of Youth Protection Officer is new in District 6630 and we are in the process of creating a database that will record that information along with other club officers. At this time, each club should appoint a Youth Protection Officer if the Club is going to participate in or have any contact with youth. In addition, anyone involved with RYLA, the 4-Way Test Speech Contest, Interact, or any youth activity or club, should consider attending.
The approach used to implement the Youth Protection Policy is similar to that used by the Grants Management Committee in its Grant Management Seminars. That is, attendance is mandatory and it will be a condition precedent to taking part in youth activities.
The Youth Protection Committee and your district leadership are all aware that this is a new undertaking and that it will take time to fully implement the process. However, your cooperation and support is critical to meet this important mandate.
The Youth Protection Committee members would like to express their special thanks for the efforts of Past District Governor Beverly Ghent-Skrzynski, District Governor Pat Myers, District Governor-Elect Larry Lohman, District Governor Nominee, David Jones, and District Governor-Nominee Designate, Julie Brandle. Without their support and the support of the District’s Board of Directors, moving forward in this critical field would not be possible.
There are few activities in the District that are more valuable or more important than working with youth. It is imperative that all of us do our best as Rotary International mandates to make all youth activities as safe as possible for all involved.
If you would start by having your Officers and Directors review the Youth Protection Policy and move forward with appointing a Youth Protection Officer, we can then successfully take our first steps together. Your cooperation and support is not only critical, it is very much appreciated. Upon appointing a Youth Protection Officer, for your Club, please supply that information to District Secretary Michael Davanzo via email. Please include contact information, including an email address for the Youth Protection Officer. District Secretary Davanzo’s email address is
John L. Reyes
Past District Governor