Interact club’s winning video highlights scope of youth service in Rotary

For the second time in three years, the Interact Club of Hugh Boyd Secondary School in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, took the $500 grand prize in the annual Interact video contest, beating 88 entries from 33 countries. 

The secret to the club's success isn't just the professional quality of the videos but the stories behind them, says club member Kyle Gomes, who was the director, cinematographer, and editor for this year's three-minute entry, "Our Best Day in Interact." The video, narrated by several Interact members, shows the students decorating Christmas trees at Richmond's City Hall; ice skating to raise funds for the polio eradication campaign; collecting canned goods for a local food bank; participating in a model UN day in San Diego, California, USA; and rebuilding a preschool and orphanage in South Africa in 2013.

The project in South Africa, conducted every other year since 2003, generally includes a team of five Interact members; members of the sponsor Rotary club, Richmond Sunset; teachers from Hugh Boyd Secondary; and firefighters, all of whom spend a month providing assistance to the Refilwe orphanage, located south of Johannesburg.

"We really wanted to emphasize how much of an impact we can make in our community," says Gomes. "Our club is involved in so many projects, it was imperative to us that we show that in our video. We want the Rotary world to know that Interactors enjoy and are motivated to give back."

Club president Melissa Chao was part of the 2013 team that traveled to South Africa, and calls it a "life-altering journey."

The team renovated the preschool that adjoins the orphanage, adding linoleum flooring, expanding the kitchen, creating a patio and awnings, and fixing the roof. "I hope to return to Refilwe to continue the progress I started two summers ago," says Chao.

Gomes will be part of the team traveling to South Africa this July. To raise the $3,500 cost for each student, he and the other Interactors plan to participate in a pledge drive called 24 Without, in which they will fast for 24 hours and refrain from using cell phones and other digital devices. "This will give us a glimpse of what so many children deal with on a daily basis," he says.

Interactors add vigor to small sponsor club

The Hugh Boyd Interact Club, chartered in 2012, has 160 members, almost eight times the total in its sponsor Rotary club, Richmond Sunset.

But what the Rotary club lacks in numbers, it makes up with strength, thanks in part to the Interactors, says Richmond Sunset member and Interact adviser Magdalen Leung. "Their boundless energy motivates our members. We try to include Interactors in all our projects because they add so much enthusiasm," she says.

"It's no surprise the club won the contest again," Leung says. "They represent exactly what Rotary wants from our youth programs. This will help attract more members to their club, which only makes our family bigger and stronger."

Leung says engaging in youth programs is vital to Rotary's future. "Being hands-on with Interactors or Rotaractors by giving them community service opportunities will help these students to be better members of society."

For Chao, the feeling is reciprocal. "Words can't describe how extremely grateful we all are to our sponsor club and Rotary for their leadership, mentorship, and friendship," she says.

Her club plans to use its $500 contest prize as seed money for an upcoming clothing drive for teens at Vancouver Covenant House, a shelter for homeless youth.

The three other clubs selected as contest finalists, and their videos are: Interact Club of Marghita, Romania, "Interact Helps the Poor Children"; Interact Club of Geethaanjali, Tamil Nadu, India, "Best Day Ever"; and Interact Club of CSI San Salvador Noroeste, El Salvador, "Serving for Better Days."

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By Ryan Hyland