By Sam Warner, Ludlow Speakers, Area J11 Director
The teacher was a little perplexed when I asked her for the naughty kids and the quiet kids to be invited to be participants in the Youth Leadership Program (YLP). She felt that this special after-school club should be a reward for good behaviour to the children that were already achieving good grades. I explained that in Telford especially, (a factory and mining town) aspirations were not high and some children were destined to follow in their parent’s footsteps into benefits and crime without positive intervention.
YLP changes young lives forever, by giving a voice to young people who find it hard to express themselves in a constructive way, or at all! Most children have been told to sit down, shut up, and do as they are told. I ask them to stand up, speak up and tell me about something there are interested in.
I’m just about to start my 7thYLP with 15 x fifteen year olds. I have modified the program to better suit English culture and schooling whilst maintaining the structure and teachings of Toastmasters. We do three rounds of speeches, culminating in a showcase in front of teachers, parents and friends. I conduct group evaluations after each speech and table topic and I have added the grammarian role to help the class learn about grammatical devices, new words and filler words. Each session has a lesson and the participants all get to take turns at the committee roles.
The teachers are always so grateful and so impressed with the both the quantity and the quality of the lessons. The children evolve before your eyes. They surprise you, delight you and impress you. I have yet to encounter any actual naughty behaviour. Most schools ask me to return once they have experienced the program and words gets round – I am very much in demand in Shropshire and Staffordshire.
We do need more Toastmasters delivering more YLPs in schools. The teachers want it, the kids need it, and it’s a great development opportunity for any member who wish to enhance their own skills. I’m happy to advise and guide any Toastmaster that would like to give it a go. I have met adults that received the YLP training at school who have gone on to become Toastmasters and they say it changed their lives forever for the better.
If you want to know more, Sam has templates for all the agendas if you want to replicate her delivery of the YLP. You can email her