Heads Up! Here Come the Future Toastmasters

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.

Youth Leadership Program group July 2016

Members of the Strongsville Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program, Summer 2016

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!”

Jacob Ritzert with mom Tammy Ritzert

YLP participant Jacob Ritzert with his mother, Tammy Ritzert

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.

Dave Wiley Tony Green with Annette Palmer YLP 071016

YLP Strongsville Director Annette Palmer with District Director Dave Wiley (left) and Youth Leadership Program Liaison Tony Green

“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.

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State Representative Steve Hambley

“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 acgitsme@yahoo.com or 216.338.7771.

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4 thoughts on “Heads Up! Here Come the Future Toastmasters

  1. I was so impressed – as a teacher for 30 years (now retired) I have seen a lot of programs. This by far exceeded my expectations and I wish more children had the opportunity to participate in such a program. Such maturity in all the children. The speeches were heartwarming and interesting I know a lot of hard work went into each and everyone of their presentations. Annette Palmer is a wonderful and hard-working lady. Now I will tell you I am the twin’s grandmother. I was so impressed with my grandsons it gave me goosebumps. Annette is Logan’s voice teacher and I am so thrilled with his achievement with his music also. Thanks for all your hard work and know that you made a difference in each child and the parents also.

  2. I was contacted by a high school teacher who wants to get her juniors involved in toastmasters. Is there a phone number or email that I can give her to contact for this information?

    • Hello, Judy – and anyone else interested in the Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program. Our YLP liaison is Toastmaster Tony Green. He would be happy to answer any questions about the program. He can be reached at acgitsme@yahoo.com or (216) 338-7771.

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