Students have joined an international family 155,000-strong in a move that will develop their life skills and benefit the community.
Barnard Castle School has become the latest to launch a Rotary Interact Club, one of 7,000 in 88 countries.
Rotary Interact Clubs are aimed at students aged 12-18 as an introduction to the global charity Rotary International.
Barnard Castle School students organised an official launch in their sixth form centre and have already come up with their first project to help the town’s elderly by providing companionship, musical concerts and helping with their shopping.
The official launch, hosted by joint school Rotary Interact Club Presidents Victoria Gibson and Rebecca Collinson, was attended by Rotarians and civic dignitaries including the town’s Mayor Sandra Moorhouse and her husband Ian.
Students have been working with Barnard Castle Rotary past president Pauline Loughran-Hanby and junior vice president Colin Dunnighan for months to set up the new club.
Mrs Loughran-Hanby said: “The students have been excellent to work with, very mature and enthusiastic. They have been so involved and already come up with some great ideas.”
Victoria said: “Our club will help the local community and older people in particular. Loneliness can have an impact on people’s health so we have drawn up a rota of activities to help.”
Rebecca added: “We will be helping with people’s shopping and also taking our musicians into homes and organising social events.”
Barnard Castle Rotary president Ross Law said: “The key to the clubs is to ensure young people always have fun. Their projects will help the community, develop the young people as leaders and see them make new friends.
“This also promotes respect for others, understanding and goodwill. Students are now a new cog in the Rotary machine and the opportunities within the network are endless to make a real difference in the world today.”