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When you think of some traditions of spring, I'm sure our annual RYLA event comes straight to mind. Each May, District 6420 normally hosts a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) weekend camp at Camp Lorado Taft in Oregon, IL, where over 100 regional high school student leaders band together to learn a little bit about themselves, leadership and have some fun. While COVID-19 resulted in a RYLA's cancellation in 2020, District 6420 is approaching this important event from a different angle in 2021. This year we'll be hosting a virtual leadership series titled "VYRAL". 
 
VYRAL will include three separate virtual events highlight keynote speakers and leadership-oriented activities for our high school leaders. Students can attend one, two or all three events, which will occur on May 7, August 6 and November 6, 2021. Registration is still handled through local Rotary clubs, so we'll be relying on club presidents and members to help get the word out about VYRAL and get students signed up for the event. Our committee chair, Dave Diamond, provided a letter to club presidents about the event and their role (see it under "File Downloads" on the left hand side navigation bar.) Let's make this year's "special edition" of RYLA a success!

On October 14th, 2020 the Belvidere Rotary Club and the Belvidere Park District held a dedication of the newly renovated playground at Bloom Playground in Belvidere Park.  The new playground has a new soft rubber base especially beneficial to the participants of the Districts Northlands Association for Special Recreation (NASR). 

The NASR program is a cooperative partnership between the Belvidere, Freeport, and Rockford Park Districts. Through the Belvidere Special Recreation Department of the Belvidere Park District, services are provided for high quality recreation programs and services to individuals, ages 3 through adulthood, with various mental and physical disabilities who reside within Belvidere and Boone County, Illinois.  Included in the Bloom Playground is a Rotary International marble plaque in the ground by a tree and a bench by the zip line, also donated by the Belvidere Club.

The Belvidere Club contributed $19,530 toward the purchase of the new playground equipment, which included $2,300 from their District Grant. 

The Kishwaukee Sunrise Rotary Club of Sycamore/DeKalb recently completed its fourth year of award selections for its annual Community Grant for Children, Youth and Families of DeKalb County. The club raises money each year through the “Taste of DeKalb” event held in September, in conjunction with the Corn Classic Run, to fund an annual $10,000 grant to  local non-profit organizations with a project that will directly benefit children, youth, and/or families in the county. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, both the fund-raising efforts and the Taste of DeKalb event were impacted, resulting in reduced awards for 2020 to $5,000.
 
The Taste of DeKalb event, originally scheduled for September 26, 2020, has been canceled, but that didn’t stop a number of community-minded business and individual donors from still contributing to the community grant. Because of their generosity, we are thankful to have awarded $5,000 to deserving projects in the county. 
 
Awardees for 2020 include AdventureWorks, the Regional Mobilization Access Program (RAMP) and the Northern Illinois Food Bank. AdventureWorks was awarded $2,500 to support its Little Adventurers program, which is a social-emotional kindergarten readiness program for four- and five-year-olds. RAMP received $1,500 to support Project SEARCH, a unique work immersion model for at-risk high school students with developmental disabilities who are transitioning from school to work. The Northern Illinois Food Bank received $1,000 to support its Backpack Program and provide 125 food-filled backpacks to students facing a risk of hunger.
The Rotary year starts every July 1 and with it comes new leadership at the global level and often down to the club officer level. The new Rotary International President is Holder Knaack of Germany. To read more about him, click here. Each year new leaders step up and bring their perspectives and talents to bear on meeting the year's challenges in making a difference in our world. This year's theme is "Rotary Opens Opportunities". What opportunities will Rotary open for you this year?
 
 
             
    
RI President Holger Knaack and his wife, Suzanne
 
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Nigeria polio free, leaving the devastating disease endemic in only two countries of the world; Afghanistan and Pakistan. Rotary continues to push this disease towards extinction! To read the entire story, follow this link.
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