By Vicky Nann, DTM
The Toastmaster’s head was barely visible over the lectern. But his delivery belied his small stature. With vigor, his voice booming, he introduced the first speaker. “Please welcome Trevor Parker, presenting ‘My Twin – My Best Friend,’” he announced with a flourish.
If you’re a Toastmaster, this isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary. But consider the fact that the Toastmaster, Logan Parker, and the first speaker, Trevor Parker, were twins. Eleven-year old twins.
Logan and Trevor were among the 24 future Toastmasters 11 to 15 years old who recently completed an eight-meeting Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program (YLP) sponsored by Crossroads Club in Strongsville, Ohio. The program culminated with a recognition ceremony on Sunday, July 10 at the Brunswick Reformed Church in Brunswick, Ohio.
Before an audience of dozens of parents, friends, Toastmasters, and local dignitaries and celebrities, the YLP participants presented prepared speeches and participated in panel or topic discussions. Speech topics included life among the Amish, karate (including a demonstration of techniques), being a superhero, and classical dance of India. Panelists discussed how to handle a disruptive club member and the relative merits of Skittles versus M&Ms.
Niki Yadavelli, 14, who participated in both this year’s and last year’s Strongsville YLP program, credits the YLP program with helping her become more confident. “I’m no longer afraid to speak my mind,” she said. “Or speak in class – or on stage!”
Eleven year old Jacob Ritzert, whose prepared speech was about Robert Ripley (of believe-it-or-not fame), said the program changed him. “I’m a lot more expressive,” he said. His mother, Tammy Ritzert, agreed. “Jacob has developed stage presence, and he’s more purposeful,” she said.
“It’s wonderful witnessing these young people blossom,” said Annette Parker, director of the Crossroads Club’s Youth Leadership Program. She and Toastmasters Sharon Stadul and Lora Holman guided the young participants through a multi-week program that focused on developing communication and leadership skills.
In each 90 minute YLP meeting, participants followed a format similar to that of a Toastmasters club meeting, including an announced agenda, practice in parliamentary procedure, and the selection of presiding officers.
“I was greatly impressed by the talent and cultural diversity of the students,” said State Representative Steve Hambley, who attended Sunday’s event. “We are fortunate to have such dedicated and talented people working on the Youth Leadership Program.”
Toastmasters International District 10 Director Dave Wiley agreed. “The recognition program on Sunday was amazing. Congratulations to Annette Palmer, mastermind behind the event, and to all who assisted.”
The Youth Leadership Program is open to boys and girls ages 11 through 17. The program consists of eight meetings, one to two hours long. For further information, contact District 10 Youth Leadership Program Liaison Tony Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or (216) 338-7771.