Daniel has volunteered as part of the RYLA team for 7 years since he attended RYLA as a participant in 2011. With many talents and skills in his belt Daniel has sort out past RYLArians to hear what the program was like for them as participants and active members of their communities. This has led to a series of interviews we will be posting here.
This smiling face you see to the left is Daniel helping out the Management team on our RYLA Rotary Dinner Night. His trade mark up-beat attitude made him such a wonderful member of the RYLA team.
As part of the first in a series of interviews with former RYLA participants, Daniel Paproth interviews Daniel Paproth. : )
Why did you do RYLA?
To be completely honest – I was working for a man by the name of Rob Fava, a member of the Rotary Club of Werribee, who owns cardboard box manufacturing company Boxes2Go. He was paying me $20 cash-in-hand to help out with the more rudimentary tasks, and I was very keen to keep that arrangement going, so when he asked if I would be interested in attending RYLA, of course I said yes. Little did I know that it would be the most transformative week of my life – it is the best thing I have ever done. It set me on the path I am on today and I haven’t looked back since. I am so thankful Rob and his wife Lyn planted the seed!
What did RYLA mean to you?
I am still discovering the answer to that question even today, though it’s been eight years since I did the program as a participant. I don’t know where I would be without it, and I don’t like to think about it. RYLA represented the first time in my life where I was in an environment where I could truly be myself. As I’d spent the best part of 21 years not being myself for fear of judgement from peers, I actually had to learn who I was. RYLA was a week where I knew no one; that gave me the freedom to explore myself and find out who I really was.
The program has given me so much over eight years. It has given me a wealth of personal development, trained me in crucial leadership skills, given me greater empathy, awareness, self-awareness, developed in me resilience and also given me an understanding of true community. It has also given me some of the very best friends in the world, many of whom I’m still in contact with on a regular basis. It has even allowed me to watch my partner and my sister in later years participate in the program, which gave me immense pride.
How has RYLA helped you on the path you are on today?
It’s a bit serendipitous, really. In my participant year in 2011 I met Jamin Heppell. We formed a great bond. He later went on to found The Man Cave, an emotional intelligence and preventative mental health organisation for boys and men. We kept in touch as the years went on, sometimes close, other times not. In 2017 we invited Jamin back to RYLA to deliver a speech and Q&A on his life experience, which introduced me to The Man Cave. In 2018, Jamin and his co-founder Hunter Johnson invited me to join the organisation as a trainee facilitator and I haven’t looked back.
So for me, RYLA is the single most important thing that has ever happened to me. It has led me to live out my passion, helping boys and men explore more of their humanity – just like I did in 2011 on RYLA – working for an amazing organisation. It’s given me many amazing friendships. (And, had I not moved out to live with RYLA friends David Kinnersley and Claire Bryan in Brunswick, I would probably never have met the love of my life Emily, because she would have been outside of the 50km maximum radius on Tinder.) To think I nearly didn’t get on the bus that Sunday morning back in 2011… I shudder at the thought.
One of the pillars of District 9800's RYLA program is Community. This blog will be an avenue for our RYLArians to contribute to the online RYLA community and share what they are doing to make change in their lives and the lives of others.