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Interact club is a service club for youth ages 12 to 18 and is part of Rotary International, the world’s first service club organization. The parent international organization consists of over 30,000 clubs around the world and boasts more than million business and professional leaders as members. Individual Rotary clubs sponsor the youth component, Interact clubs, by providing guidance and support. The first Interact club was founded in 1962.
Interact involves as many as 200,000 youth through more than 10,000 clubs in 109 countries and geographical areas. Each club varies according to its membership makeup. Some Interact clubs are single gender; others are mixed gender. An Interact club may derive its membership from a single school or combine students from more than one school in a particular community, and students as young as 10 may join if the school where the club is based accepts students of that age. The size of Interact club memberships varies, as well. Members are known as Interactors.
The Interact clubs are self-supporting and self-governing, although they receive direction and minimal, if any, financial support from the sponsoring Rotary club. All Interact clubs sponsor a minimum of two community service projects annually. One project should support an understanding of international goodwill. Another service project should benefit the local community or school. The club meets at least twice monthly. Active members must maintain a 60% attendance record.
A member of the supporting Rotary club serves as the adviser to the student organization and attends related meetings. The Rotarian adviser also serves as the liaison between the Interact club and the Rotary club. Funds for service projects are raised through club activities, and may or may not be supplemented by minimal club dues.
Benefits of membership in an Interact club include the opportunity to network with other members both locally and internationally. Members also have opportunities to develop leadership skills, understand the importance of responsibility and promote international awareness. Other benefits include learning the importance of serving others, showing respect and developing personal integrity.
Each year during the week of November 5, Interact celebrates the founding of the club with World Interact Week. During this week, members of Interact and Rotary clubs often plan joint projects. In a past project related to World Interact Week, a club in Uganda donated time and materials to a local orphanage. Another Interact club in Columbia organized an AIDS Awareness March through their community.
Additional opportunities exist through Rotary International for young people in other programs. The Rotary Youth Exchange is a program in which students can spend up to a year in a foreign country while living with local families and attending a local school. Rotaract makes opportunities available for those ages 18-30 to provide service in their communities. And the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards is a training program for youth ages 14-30.