Rotary youth safe and sound

By Geoff Lee

May 30, 2018 12:36 PM

Tamara Larson, youth services chair of Rotary District 5370 spoke to the Rotary Club of Lloydminster on Monday about youth program safety. District 5370 covering Lloydminster is the second largest Rotary area in the world with hundreds of youth in Rotary activities.

Rotary youth program safety is a timely topic with Holy Rosary High School student Abigail Jurgens set for her long term youth exchange trip to Japan this fall. 
All aspects of youth safety were covered in a presentation by Tamara Larson, youth services chair for Rotary District 5370 in Edmonton at the Rotary Club of Lloydminster’s Monday lunch meeting.
“I am here to talk about all the youth programs offered in our district so that will include Interact, Rotaract, Youth Exchange and our youth leadership programs,” said Larson.
She was introduced as a Rotarian with a passion for working with youth and creating opportunities for leadership mentorship and helping young leaders serve humanity and make a difference.
Larson said there are 1,600 Interact and Rotaract students in this district with 10 outbound youth exchange students this fall counting Jurgens and 10 inbound foreign students.
As someone with a Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems ticket, Larson also spoke about about risk management and what the requirements are for working with youth or hosting exchange students at home or places like Japan where Jurgens is going.
“When we look at exchanges we look at which countries and which partners are the safest, which ones we have the strongest relationship with,” she said.
She that means countries that are safe and stable economically, politically and sociably and will offer a great environmememt to our students.
“So this year we are exchanging with Europe and Japan” she said.
Jurgens will be going to Odawara in the Kanagawa District of Japan for the upcoming school year with her safety top of mind.
“We have very vigilant guidelines as to what we expect and we expect that from our host partners to ensure our students are safe,” said Larson.
“They have to have security clearances and there is training for them in regard to risk management and expectations.”
That will also apply to some new three to six week short term youth exchanges that the district will be launching soon.
She said Rotary even has risk management protocols in place, evacuation procedures, insurance policies and things like that in case there is unexpected trouble in a host country.
Foreign students to be hosted by Canadian families in the district also undergo security checks.
“We do home visits before the student gets there and while the student is living there so do vette the families very well,” said Larson.
She said anyone over 18 working with youth under the age of 18 must obtain a vulnerable persons record check certificate (VPRC) from the police and these are valid for three years.
A VPRC is necessary for Rotary community service projects and working with disabled and sociallly
disadvantaged sectors covering food banks and seniors.
In addition every over 18 in a family hosting a Youth Exchange student has to have a VPRC.
In other news, Rotary will be replacing its June18 meeting with a golf and supper event at Rolling Green Fairways starting at 2 p.m. to toast the work of this year’s president Robin Acton.

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