D91 Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program

A New Chapter

By Andrew Bennett and Janet Alkema

Andrew Bennett

How happy we have been to resume our D91 Youth Leadership Programs after the pandemic as the schools and youth structures were able to receive us.

It has been my privilege to share news with you and I am so pleased that the following clubs have delivered YLPs this year:

Speakers of Croydon, Malvern Speakers (2 Programs,) Beckenham Communicators, City Limits Toastmasters, Farnham Speakers.

Thank you so much to these clubs and the Toastmaster Coordinators who led the programs. You have made such a valuable contribution to the lives of our young people. They will benefit hugely from all they have learned about speaking and leadership from you and to know that you all enjoyed the experience so much is a bonus!

The new Toastmasters year is beginning, and I have decided to step down as YLP Encourager for our District.

It all started with a request when I was an Area Director on London Division B Council in D71 (D91 didn’t exist yet!)

That request to support Youth Leadership Program has extended into a ten-year period where I have had the joy of accompanying Toastmasters who wanted to deliver the program.

I was able to bring young people to showcase their speaking skills at two spring conferences, visited and delivered content at many programs and fostered our international connections. I was invited to share with programs in France, Austria, Canada, Turkey and assist with the setting up of the first YLP in Peru.

From a very full heart I say thank you to all our Toastmasters who have assisted in any way with Youth Leadership Program over those many years.

I am so happy to announce that Toastmaster Janet Alkema will be your new Youth Leadership champion. Janet has recently completed a very successful YLP with her club, Farnham Speakers.

She will be setting up a committee to further promote Youth Leadership and I know that you will support her by volunteering to lead programs in the coming year.

I’d like to hand over to Janet now to tell us about the Farnham Speakers Youth Leadership Program …..

Above: Janet presenting the certificates at the final assembly at Heath End School

Janet Alkema

Thank you very much, Andrew.  You have left big shoes for me to fill!!

I first found out about the Youth Leadership Programme about 5 years ago and approached my club, Farnham Speakers, who agreed to sponsor the workbooks.  I then set about wondering how or where I could start one. In 2019 I found a school which was very keen to become involved in such a project and we were in negotiations for this when Covid struck two years ago.  Two years later and I was able to negotiate with another local school to run a programme with 11 of their Year 9 pupils (14-year-olds.)  We started at the end of February this year – did the 8 weekly sessions with the final presentation meeting at the end of March.  Rather frustratingly I had Covid by then and could not attend the presentation meeting. However, by all accounts it was extremely successful and we received very enthusiastic feedback from the parents and teachers who were very impressed with the progress in speaking and confidence the pupils demonstrated in such a short time frame.  I call it the Magic of Toastmasters.

We have been asked to run another programme at the same school in the Autumn term which I will do with my small band of helpers.  We have also linked up with our local Rotary group who are keen to contribute during the sessions.  This has been very helpful as not all our Farnham Speakers members are available during the school day and we appreciate the Rotarian’s support.

I can see first hand the benefits to the pupils of having access to the Programme and am very keen to see even more being run out in schools across District 91.  Of course there are immense benefits to those who run the courses as well, not least of which is that it is one of the criteria to gain credit for a DTM award.

Please do contact me if you would like to hear more about how this can help you, as an individual Toastmaster, as well as your club.  Let’s see if we can get at least one YLP in each Area of District 91 this year!!  This video clip from a speech I delivered recently also gives more information about the Programme.