JOURNEY: Glen Gorton (right) embarked on a fundraising journey across Peru to sponsor young people like Joshua Wardell to participate in the RYLA leadership program.
JOURNEY: Glen Gorton (right) embarked on a fundraising journey across Peru to sponsor young people like Joshua Wardell to participate in the RYLA leadership program. Contributed

USQ students get out of comfort zone to learn capabilities

UNIVERSITY of Southern Queensland (USQ) students Joshua Wardell and Samuel Murray are a step closer to reaching their full potential after taking part in the District 9640 Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) 2016 at Tyalgum Ridge Retreat, Tweed Valley recently.

RYLA is a week-long residential personal development program for young people aged 18-25, which focuses on personal development, leadership and community.

This year's seminar brought together more than 60 aspiring leaders from across the region looking to gain a better understanding of their own strengths, qualities and life tools that they can use throughout life and study.

RYLA offered a combination of energetic team leaders, motivational speakers and self-development workshops where participants were given an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and push beyond their personal boundaries in a friendly and supportive environment.

Bachelor of Education student Mr Wardell said his main goal heading into the program was to develop his leadership skills.

"I wanted to explore and understand my qualities better, but RYLA offered me more than that. It provided me with the tools to develop myself into a better leader and understand myself better as a person," he said.

"RYLA has helped me be more prepared and to put my leadership qualities out there to help the community.

"It has also shown me how I can pass on my skills and knowledge to people that may need it."

Bachelor of Sport and Exercise student Mr Murray said the various activities and seminars at the program tested and developed teamwork and communication skills.

"I went to RYLA to enhance my public speaking skills for my student ambassador role at USQ," he said.

"After RYLA I didn't just learn how different speakers present their knowledge and share their story, it really motivated me to do better things in life and gave me the confidence to be more positive when striving towards my goals."

This year's seminar was made possible thanks to funds raised by USQ staff member Glen Gorton and Ride for RYLA.

Mr Gorton and his two mates Julian Buttigieg and Andrew Nolan embarked on a two-week, 2500km fundraising journey across Peru on a mototaxi in 2014.

The Senior Technical Officer said he was delighted to help young people receive the skills to develop and improve themselves both personally and professionally.

"For about four years I was involved in a facilitator role at the RYLA seminar, but after Julian, Andrew and I stepped away from facilitating we wanted to give back to the program by raising money to sponsor young people to participate in the program," Mr Gorton said.

"We only managed to make it five days into our challenge at Peru, but those five days were the toughest days of our lives.

"In the end we still had a great time and the point was to raise money for RYLA and we managed to raise $12,000."

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