Thousand Oaks, California Toastmasters International members Anna Gaz, Phil Cleaver and Susan Seats from TOTAL (1934.toastmastersclubs.org], Liz Brenner (7548.toastmastersclubs.org) and Elisia Meffan (6765.Rhetorical Linkclubs.org) have been conducting a Youth Leadership Program for the last 4 years at several local schools. This program is geared to help students improve their communication and public speaking skills. The program is an informal course in the arts of communication and leadership. By participating in the program, students learn speaking and leadership skills that they are able to use for the rest of their lives. They learn to: overcome nervousness when speaking before an audience, organize and present ideas logically and convincingly, listen carefully to others’ ideas and offer advice for improvement to fellow students. Students are given plenty of opportunities to practice in a friendly, positive atmosphere. Each speaker receives advice and help from fellow students. Basic expectations are: each student participates, students are prepared and respect for each other.
“The Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program provides a supportive and positive environment where students have the opportunity to develop their communication and leadership skills,” says Anna Gaz, Vice President of Education for club TOTAL (Thousand Oaks Toastmasters at Lunch) “It also provides additional opportunities for many students, for whom English is their second language, to prepare and present speeches including impromptu speaking.”
“I am amazed at the progress that these students have shown,” commented Liz Brenner, Vice President of Membership for CLU Expressionists Toastmaster Club. “They are developing practical public speaking skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.”
The Youth Leadership Program is run by local Toastmasters International members. The program includes eight meetings of one to two hour sessions. A coordinator and assistant lead the session. Each meeting is conducted by the students acting as invocators, toastmasters, general evaluators, speakers, evaluators and table topics masters. Each session highlights a specific skill such as organizing a speech, body language, impromptu speaking, listening and voice and vocabulary. Culminating the eight weeks is a speech contest. Trophies are awarded to the winners and Certificates of Completion given to each program participant.
“We are grateful that the schools see the value in this program and given us the opportunity to share it. “ said Elisia Meffan. The following schools have participated in the Youth Leadership program : E. O. Green Jr. High School and Charles Blackstock Jr. High School, Oxnard , Redwood Intermediate School, Thousand Oaks, Berylwood Elementary in Simi, and Home study group in Simi. Over 380 students have participated in the program. “It is rewarding for me to see the confidence and progress by the students. At the beginning of the eight weeks most students won’t even look at you when they talk, shy and have no confidence. By the 4 and 5th week they are raising their hands volunteering for roles and to do speeches. “Our junior high students’ confidence and willingness to speak in front of their peers went from a zero to 10 over the eight week course. It was pure joy to observe students evolve as public speakers . One of our students spoke very little English and she was so motivated and inspired by what she was learning by Anna Gaz that she participated in the Youth Speech Contest on the final day of class. This program is an invaluable service that the Hueneme Elementary School District After School Programs are excited to be a part of,” shared Raven Aipa, Senior Director for After School Programs.
About Toastmasters International: Toastmasters International is a world wide, non-profit educational organization that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., the organization’s membership exceeds 345,000 in more than 15,900 clubs in 142 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators and leaders. For more information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit http://www.toastmasters.org.