B.C. youth communities helping others near and far

Larissa Franco, a one-quarter Portuguese and three-quarters Chinese grade 11 student at Richmond’s R.A. McMath Secondary School, helped create the Steveston Community Interact Club. Founded in the fall of 2014 because of the late start to the school year caused by the B.C. teachers strike, Franco’s club aims to make a difference both locally and internationally through student-run projects supported by a sponsoring rotary club.

As a former member of the school-based McMath Interact Club, which was unable to start up this year because it requires a sponsor teacher, Franco promoted international understanding while participating in local service projects.

According to Franco, students are given the opportunity to take on their own projects, which help them develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills in a collaborative environment.

“I just felt so inspired by the McMath Interact Club that I didn’t want to let that opportunity go. I wanted other people to experience the same things I did,” says Franco.


The Steveston Interact Club’s core executive team. From left to right:  Samantha Maika, Larissa Franco, Kunal Kumar and Nicole Gustavsson. | Photo courtesy of Samantha Maika

The Steveston Interact Club’s core executive team. From left to right:
Samantha Maika, Larissa Franco, Kunal Kumar and Nicole Gustavsson. | Photo courtesy of Samantha Maika

In addition to her involvement in the McMath Interact Club, Franco’s role as a student delegate at the 2014 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards also inspired her to initiate a community-based Interact club.

As a student delegate, Franco spent a weekend at a leadership camp where she heard inspirational speakers, attended leadership workshops and participated in team building activities with other student delegates from different regions of B.C.

The camp brought together youths with a common goal to make a difference in the world. Students fed off each other’s passion and dedication to good causes.

“I came back very motivated and inspired by everybody else. That’s why I decided to step up and start the Steveston Interact Club,” says Franco.

A community club

Its community-based membership sets the Steveston Community Interact Club apart from other Interact clubs in B.C. Franco hopes by spreading the word, in effect challenging the longstanding idea of a club as a school-wide activity and not a movement that can reach further, students from different schools will join the club.

“We’re the first community Interact club, which means that anybody from a school that doesn’t have its own Interact club is free to join ours,” says Franco.

Franco also emphasizes the club’s role in supporting a good cause while at the same time allowing its young members to develop new, transferrable skills.

“It feels good to have a team goal and be able to achieve it,” says Franco.

Current projects

Like other Interact clubs, the Steveston Community Interact Club is required to do two service projects each year: one local and one international.

On April 17, The Covenant House Project (part of this year’s local project) had Franco and her team collecting items from a clothing drive and then personally delivering those items to Covenant House. While there, the team also helped organize the donation storage area and was given a tour of the facilities.

“It was great to go down there and see the facility itself,” Franco says.

For the club’s international project, The Philippine Backpack Project, which is due to start its first phase in early May, the team plans to collect backpacks and school supplies to send to underprivileged children in the Philippines.

For those who have the ability to make a difference, reaching out and helping the less fortunate can be both empowering and rewarding.

“I can hopefully improve their lives and make every day a little better for them,” Franco says.

For more information visit: www.richmondreview.com/community/294483771.html