Englewood Rotary Clubs are working with local schools to introduce students to the world of the Rotary.
The Rotary Club of Placida will be working with Vineland Elementary School, Rotary Club of Englewood with L.A. Ainger Middle School, and Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Club with Englewood Elementary School. The three Rotary Clubs work together on the existing Interact program at Lemon Bay High School.
“It’s going to be an after-school service,” said Mark Grossenbacher, Englewood Elementary principal and a Rotarian. “The club is teaching the components of the Rotary — truth, fairness, goodwill, being a benefit to all.”
Grossenbacher said he estimates 20 students, which is a typical size of a club, may get involved with RotoKids. Membership is not limited.
“We’re doing the groundwork for it now,” said Ray LaBadie, past president of LBSRC. “Interact is for high and middle school. Roto-Kids are for fourth- and fifth-graders.”
LaBadie said the programs are designed to acclimate students to the Rotary.
“Rotary stands for service above self,” he said. “RotoKids is new to Rotary International. We’ve very excited about bringing in younger kids and teaching them about the Rotary.”
Lori Wellbaum-Emery, president of the RCE, said the programs at the schools should get started within the next month.
“Once (the students) get started (on a project), they become autonomous,” she said. “Roto-Kids tend to do environmental projects. Interact kids will decide whatever project they want to do local or international.”
Wellbaum-Emery said LBHS students last year compiled shelter boxes for victims of disasters, filling them with survival supplies.
Joe Mason, assistant governor of RCE, said Englewood Elementary students are collecting bottle caps for a recycling center that makes benches out of the recycled material.
“I call it a mustard seed program,” Mason said. “It starts out very small, then it starts blossoming. It’s important to get them involved in the community right now rather than just playing video games and going to the beach.”