Youth Leadership

By John Christie, Voice of Wales Club

Youth Leadership is a program that allows toastmasters to work in the community to inspire and equip young people to learn and succeed through effective communication and leadership.

The program is tried and trusted in schools and youth organisations since the 1960s. Stunning improvements are evident in the students after only a couple of weeks. I didn’t know that the program existed but I’m very pleased that I do now. I was mentored by Andrew Bennet who was very helpful.

It is an eight-week program of two-hour sessions from Year Ten upward and it’s based on Toastmasters meetings.

Jean Gamester with John Christie

All the elements of Toastmaster’s meetings of prepared speeches, impromptu speaking (Table Topics) and leadership are all covered excellently. The students also carried out evaluations of the Table Topics and prepared speeches.

I was lucky enough to receive a lead to Westbourne School in Penarth and worked with their staff to present the program. Kim Boland from Voice of Wales Toastmasters Club also helped. Justin, a teacher, was also involved in presenting the program. However once the program had started, the students themselves led and organised the meetings.

We were able to give eight out of thirteen students leadership roles. We provided (on loan) regalia for the President, a gavel for the Sergeant at Arms and Timing Lights for the Vice President.

The whole group elected a President, a Vice President, a Secretary and a Sergeant at Arms for the first four meetings and then elected four others for the last four meetings and they organised the meetings together with the rest of the group. Jason, Kim and I alternated in giving short educationals at each meeting.

One element in the program which is encouraged and is not often used in ordinary Toastmasters meetings is to have debates. This went down very well with the students in the school. Subjects covered were ‘Should the Death Penalty be Reinstated in the UK’ and ‘Animal Experiments are Necessary’.

Half the group were boys and half the group were girls and because this was a pre‑International Baccalaureate Year Eleven Group, none of the students had English as a first language. There were Turkish, French, German, Russian and Chinese students and a whole host of other nationalities in the group.

The program was extremely cost-effective for the school and had the benefit of having external volunteers in to help to deliver the program.

On the ninth week just before Christmas, we had what Toastmasters call the Banquet Meeting which was the Showcase to show the students new skills to teachers, pupils in other year groups, parents and other invited guests.  There was food and drink supplied by the school and we had an extremely entertaining meeting, completely organised by the students.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to take Toastmasters out into the community to showcase what Toastmasters can do in terms of communication and leadership.

I would like to thank Virginie Gautran and Justin Pocknell from the School and Kim Boland from Voice of Wales Toastmasters who helped me to deliver the program. Ann Boland introduced me to the School.

Massive thanks also to Jean Gamester, Past District Director for District 91 (UK South) and to Tony Bennett Past President of Porthcawl Speakers Club who attended the Banquet meeting.

The Toastmasters manuals for the presenters and for the students are excellent and the Youth Leadership program is now also part of the new Pathways educational program.

I do urge you to take Toastmasters out into the community in this way. It’s hugely beneficial to schools and other groups involved and to the Toastmasters volunteers from the local club.

Last Updated on 7th October 2020 by