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Young people

Darlington Interactors win Rotary’s best project

Darlington Interactors win Rotary’s best project

Students from an Interact club in Darlington have won Rotary’s best project award.

The Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form Interact Club in Darlington is celebrating after capturing the Rotary best project award.

Interact is a Rotary programme which offers an introduction for young people, aged between 12 and 18-years-old, to discover the power of volunteering and social action..

The Queen Elizabeth Interact group came together in September 2019. And they have been extremely active in their community in County Durham.

Nancy Wall, who is the Interact co-ordinator, explained that a key part of the Interact club’s approach were the teenagers’ promises – when every member of the group made a promise to help someone locally, nationally or within the international community.

The Queen Elizabeth Interact group came together in September 2019. And they have been extremely active in their community in County Durham.

“A promise is so easy to say, but often difficult to follow through, each student committed to making their promise happen,” explained Nancy.

“Each promise was directly linked to an interest or attachment the student had to a charity, a group or a person.  As a group, we committed to our 15 promises, all of which have been fulfilled.”

Many of the promises included giving specific items to charities, however the Interactors also recognised how important the gift of time can be. They made a range of promises which involved giving up their time to support their community.

“Although the students focused on their local community, they are very much aware of the needs of the wider world, and, in doing so focused, on several key Rotary aims,” pointed out Nancy.

The Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form Rotary Interact Club with the Rotary Best Project 2020 trophy for the UK.

“Funds were raised to support Rotary’s campaign to eradicate disease, in particular polio.

“To reduce child mortality, they supported a charity which provided additional training for midwives in Uganda.  There, babies die due to the lack of doctors. By providing this additional training, it allows midwives to be proficient in some further elements of emergency aid.

“This was further supported with the funding of essential equipment to help the midwives do their jobs and ensure the safety of mother and baby.”

Ellie promised to support those with cancer -10 cancer care bags were delivered to our hospital’s cancer ward.

A colourful way of promoting the initiative was the creation of an ‘I promise….’ booklet created by Interactor, Robert Beaston.

A talented artist, Robert was asked to put together a short story of the Darlington group’s activities, and he produced a beautiful record of the Interactors’ achievements.

These activities have been posted online and can be viewed on the Interact twitter page @QEInteractClub

The Interact club has also received recognition from Chris Evans on Virgin Radio, with two mentions this year.

I PROMISE ….

  • Jade promised to do a beach clean in memory of her grandmother – 12 bin bags of rubbish were collected from a local beach.
  • Ellie promised to support those with cancer -10 cancer care bags were delivered to our hospital’s cancer ward.
  • Jess promised to help people living with Dementia – Dementia awareness training completed and £250 sent to Dementia Awareness.
  • Robert promised to create a moment of happiness for children in conflict zones – a 10 story book pack created, toys knitted, books created and sent to conflict zones / natural disasters.
  • Jessica promised to support those without families living in care – 60 Christmas gifts delivered to local care homes
  • Lorna promised to reduce social isolation – Interact hosted a Christmas party for 63 local older people.
  • Petra promised to help eradicate polio -200 vaccinations were paid for.
  • Rosie promised to support raise funds for our local hospice, St Teresa’s – 1200 leaflets were delivered for the local Rotary club, to raise funds via a Christmas tree collection.
  • Charlotte promised to make sick children smile – 1214 Christmas cards were sent to children via the Post-pals charity.
  • Holly promised to help the homeless – A sleepout on the pavement raised £450 for a local homeless charity and 15 care packages were delivered for those sleeping rough.
  • Olivia promised to help the women’s refuge – Christmas advent calendars, selection boxes and gifts were provided for all the children, and a gift for all the women temporarily living in the refuge.
  • Tom promised to say thank you to the emergency services – 192 cupcakes, baked and decorated and delivered to Darlington Accident and Emergency, police, fire service and ambulance service to say thank you.
  • Ellie promised to help those struggling financially – 25 hygiene packs were created for local families to remove the stigma for children at school.
  • Rebecca promised some older people the best day out ever – a day out was organised to Washington Waterfowl park, with lunch and transport provided for a group of local elderly residents.
  • Nancy promised to help midwives in Africa – she made cards and raised funds to train four midwives, as well as emergency treatments and to pay for 10 foetal stethoscopes in Africa.

“Each and every one of the promises has been completed, and completed with enthusiasm, drive, care and compassion,” added Nancy.

A talented artist, Robert was asked to put together a short story of the Darlington group’s activities, and he produced a beautiful record of the Interactors’ achievements.

However, it didn’t stop there. The Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form Interact Club carried on their good work by serving 120 Christmas lunches for Age Concern, they helped the Residents of Abbey Field residential home decorate the home for Christmas, and they spent a full day sorting food at the local food bank and then putting together 200 packs ready to hand out to people.

The Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form Interact Club spent a full day sorting food at the local food bank and then putting together 200 packs ready to hand out to people.

On a weekly basis some members of the group have visited a local residential home to reduce social isolation and play board games with the older people.

Their latest project is the support Fred Arsenault, a World War Two veteran from Canada who is about to turn 100-years-old, and is hoping to receive 100 birthday cards.

The Interact club have collected cards and letters. They have also involved the local army cadets and primary schools – and so far they have sent 250 birthday cards to Fred for his birthday.

“One person can’t change the world, but you can change the world of one person,” said Nancy.

She added: “I cannot express how proud I am of these young people.

“We hear so much negativity in the world, and it often seems a dark place, however it is young people like those who are providing the light for the future.

“They are an absolute pleasure to work with, good fun, hardworking and an absolute credit to themselves, and I am proud to be associated with them.”