©2024 SAVIS of Halton
Connect with Us
Crisis Call 24/7 | 905-875-1555
Oakville, ON
News, News & Events, SAVIS of Halton, Uncategorized

Youth leader making change

Diya Sehgal is co-president of the Rotary Burlington North, Hayden Interact club

Diya Sehgal spent four days in the nation’s capital and they were the “best of her life.”

The Grade 11 Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School student is co-president of the school’s Interact Club, the youth branch of Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 12 to 18. 

Diya joined the Hayden Interact Club last year and has been participating in meaningful activities since and she has no plans on stopping. Interact clubs bring together youth to develop leadership skills, while discovering Rotary’s motto: service above self. 

Diya is thrilled to be part of the club, which is linked with Rotary Burlington North, in part because of people she’s met along the way, including Adventure in Citizenship, four days in Ottawa last May. 

That was an adventure and citizenship program for youth 16 to 18 years old. They attended tours, social events and watched a Canadian citizenship ceremony, which for her was particularly meaningful. 

She also met a Holocaust survivor, and said that experience was extremely enlightening since she had studied that at school. “To meet someone like that who experienced all of that it was beyond conceivable,” she said, adding the club has grown a lot recently and has 16-20 students. 

Having just moved with her family to Canada two years ago, and not yet a Canadian citizen, she knows firsthand how meaningful that is. “I was so happy I was able to attend the program even though I wasn’t a Canadian citizen yet, because I was really interested in this program,” she said. “It’s about leadership and meeting new people.” 

She’s already developing her leadership skills, according to staff at the school. Melinda Tarantino, the teacher-advisor for the Hayden Interact Club and Miles Ross, rotary advisor to the club, agreed that Diya “shows “compassion, leadership, and initiative. She has a great way of commanding the room during the Interact Club meetings. She has a beautiful, quiet nature.” 

“Diya is a dedicated, diligent, and caring individual,” added Ross. “She listens to people’s thoughts and opinions. She is a team player, working alongside co-president Noah Carmichael providing effective leadership.” 

For Diya, it’s about giving back to the community, especially after she discovered all the different projects they work on. Most recently, she spent a Saturday with Rotary Burlington North helping to paint all the learning rooms at Woodview Children’s Centre. 

She said Interact club is “solving real problems that take real commitment, from big cities to rural villages; it’s about bringing change in the community.” Last year she worked on a grant writing challenge, hosted by Rotary; students pick a charity that’s located in the area. They chose Burlington Humane Society, and presented in front of the Rotary Club. They had to share why that particular charity should be funded. In addition, they sold dog and cat treats at the school to raise funds for the animal charity. They ended up raising $1,000. 

This year’s charity is SAVIS of Halton, and all month long during sexual assault awareness month, the Hayden Interact club is promoting that.

In addition, they are helping to raise funds for a family living in Guatemala. They are trying to raise funds to cover the $350 to purchase smokeless stoves, said Diya, who hopes to study business, marketing or finance at University of Toronto or University of British Columbia. 

“There’s a village where they don’t have access to that kind of luxury; they have to cook food in their homes with fire and it’s really harmful – all the harmful emission that is released into the air. This should help to improve their quality of life. It’s a basic necessity.” 

Interactors also serve breakfast to elderly people one time a month in various Burlington locations. 

Burlington Today-About the Author: Julie SlackJulie Slack is a Halton resident who has been working as a community journalist for more than 25 years