Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) 2016-17

By: Rtr.Saliya Randeniya

The future of the world lies in the hands of its youth. It is only by moulding the future leaders to take up tomorrow’s responsibilities can we secure a prosperous future for the world. The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is held to facilitate this salient cause.

The RYLA for 2016-2017, was held on the 26th and 27th of November at the Aqua Pearl Lake Resort, Moratuwa, under the theme ‘Lead Tomorrow’.

The event this time was organised by the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid Town.

The agenda for Day 1 was started with the traditional proceedings, followed by the welcome address by Rtn. Hussein Fazleabas, President, RC Colombo Mid Town. This was followed by Rtn. Senake Amerasinghe, District Governor 2016-17 explaining the current purpose of the Rotary International movement. The introductory session ended by Rtn. G.S. Sylvester, organizing committee chair, explaining the schedule and rules of the RYLA program.

The first technical session for the day was started by an eye-opening session on ‘The Leader in You’, by Mr. Dusty Alahakoon, Managing Director of Asia Pacific Brewery Lanka Ltd.

Mr. Dusty opened the session with an interesting activity to show the emergence of leaders within a group. The session continued portraying how to bring the leader within each person to action.

The next session was also an interesting lecture themed ‘Innovator’s DNA’, by Mr. Irfan Ahamed, MD/Founder of Innovation Quotient. The session highlighted the importance of innovation for the exponentially growing world, inspiring many young RYLArians to innovate for the betterment of the world.

A session portraying the leaders’ role in social service was then conducted by Past District Governor Thariq Thulba. The session talked about a sensitive area concerning the social services deemed as a good leader, and the role of the Rotary movement as a whole in this regard.

The second technical session for the day was started with a lecture on ‘Decision Making’ by Mr. Romero Linden. The session was an enlightening one which highlighted the importance of the decisions made by a leader. The importance of making tough decisions when the situation calls for it, and how a leader could handle constructive criticism and use it to improve his/her role as a leader was also highlighted. This session was highly appreciated by the RYLArians since it not only improved their decision making skills as a leader, but also for their personal life too.

After the indoor sessions, all the RYLArians gathered at the banks of the Bolgoda Lake for the highly anticipated outdoor session. These sessions were targeted on building the concept of ‘high performance teams’.

A variety of activities including air rifle shooting, rafting etc. where held, which brought in unity among the teams.

After the outdoor activities, all the RYLArians gathered in the auditorium after refreshing themselves; to participate in the talent show. The talent show was a entertaining display of RYLArian talents. All the teams mesmerised the audience with their creativity.

The proceedings for the day were ended by a relaxing bonfire by the banks of Bolgoda Lake.


Sessions of Day 2 started with an early morning energiser: A Zumba session. This session received much higher enthusiasm than expected, where all the RYLArians involved in Zumba much passionately.

After the early morning Zumba boost-up, the first technical sessions for Day 2 started with a presentation by Mr. Dulith Herath, CEO/Founder of Kapruka. The session was titled, ‘how to build a billion rupee company with zero capital’. The session built up to take an interactive course, where some of the participants who themselves were up to startups, reached out to Mr. Dulith for his hands on experience.


The next in the lineup was an interesting session on personal branding, by Mr. Inthikab Zufer. The importance of branding oneself for better presentation is crucial in today’s society, and many aspects in this regard, including social media branding were explained.

The second technical session for Day2 was started by an inspiring presentation on ‘Communicating as a leader’ by Mr. Sandun Fernando.

Dr. Naomal Balasuriya took the crowd on a motivational course with his unorthodox method of delivery, during the next session themed ‘Nothing is Impossible’.

Later came the group presentations by the RYLArians, where each team expressed how they felt about RYLA 2016-17. This turned up to be a session where each participant expressed how they felt about the RYLA fraternity, and how they walked in as strangers, only to find them leave as family.The RYLArians expressed their gratitude to the Rotary family of Colombo Mid Town, for organising such a meaningful and enjoyable program.

The award ceremony was then held, where Rtr. Sanduni Hettigoda from the Rotaract Club of Panadura was awarded as the RYLArian of the year, and Rtr. Krithiga Radhakrishnan from the Rotaract Club of Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology was awarded as the most popular RYLArian.

After the concluding comments by Rtn. G. S. Sylvester, the RYLA class of 2016-17 dismissed amidst warm wishes from the participants and the organisers.


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