Youth participation and engagement stand out as a barometer of the social capital and health of democratic institutions in our societies.
Building an active youth base is more important than ever in times like these, when socioeconomic inequality, inequity, and social justice divides are widening, regrettably exacerbated by COVID-19 and social and political upheavals around the world. Rotary and Rotarians, since its inception, have always been committed to youth initiatives.
On 14th December, at the Rotary Luncheon held at Castlereagh Boutique Hotel in Sydney, Rotary Club of Sydney’s Past President (2020-2021), Ms. Cathy Tait recognized Dr. Sonu M. M. Bhaskar‘s youth leadership and service to Rotary and the wider community.
Dr. Bhaskar is the Founding Director of NSW Brain Clot Bank and Global Health Neurology Lab. Dr. Bhaskar is also the current Chair of the Youth Committee and Board Director at the Rotary Club of Sydney. During his term, Dr. Bhaskar initiated Rotary Youth Talks, a flagship program to attract youth, Rotary alumni, or scholars, as well as guest speakers with relevant backgrounds to share their experiences and insights on youth participation, capacity building, and broader engagement.
On being recognized by the Rotary Club of Sydney, Dr. Bhaskar expressed his surprise and gratitude to fellow Rotarians and Past President Cathy Tait saying, “I’m extremely humbled to receive this special recognition from Cathy Tait, our Past President of Sydney Rotary, today for the leadership and service to the community!”
“Today, through the projects and initiatives I’m part of and support, from Rotary Youth Talks to medical humanitarian projects, a question that I keep seeking: how can we empower others and cultivate compassionate leadership to create a safe, better, and kinder world?”
“It is this quest and the passion to serve that has kept me going despite the challenges that life has thrown my way! Coming from a humble background, I deeply appreciate the power of mentors, teachers, and colleagues who once believed in a ‘boy with torn shoes’ – those who could look beyond to extend a hand of kindness.”, Dr. Bhaskar said.
The overarching aim of the Rotary Youth Talks program is to develop this as a forum for inclusive and innovative discussion and networking between Rotary Youth alumni, including but not limited to National Youth Science Forum (NYSF)/Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) alumni, past and current Rotaract and Interact members, as well as Rotarians with an interest in youth projects.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The idea is to leverage this as a platform for engagement and ongoing mentorship of young and emerging leaders as well as to identify and sponsor future youth leaders.
At Rotary, as the Chair of NYSF and RYLA selection committee at Rotary Sydney, whilst interviewing candidates for NYSF and RYLA, Dr. Bhaskar has had first-hand experience of how Rotary programs and Rotarian-led mentorship can make a positive impact on youth.
Dr. Bhaskar is also involved in mentoring exceptional STEM students, researchers, and professionals as part of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering’s (ATSE) funded Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) initiative.
More information on the Rotary Youth Talks is available on the Sydney Rotary’s page. Recordings of the past Rotary Youth Talks (2021) are available on Youtube.
1. Rotary Youth Talks: “The Redfern Story, our Journey” by Georgia Stirton, Manager PCYC South Sydney
13th October 2021
2. Rotary Youth Talks: “From surviving cancer to a journey in forensic anthropology” by Tori Berezowski, The University of Newcastle, Australia
20th October 2021
3. Rotary Youth Talks: “Untangling Huntington’s Disease” by Gabrielle Phillips, The University of Wollongong, Australia
10th November 2021
4. Rotary Youth Talks: “Partnerships through youth engagement” by Courtney Krahe and Lara Rutstein
20th November 2021
5. Rotary Youth Talks: “The Rotary NYSF Journey” by Michael Valceski, University of Wollongong, Australia
4th December 2021
6. Rotary Youth Talks: “Bringing humanity together with youth engagement” by Rabbi Zalman Kastel AM, Together for Humanity Foundation, Australia
15th December 2021