Toastmasters District 42 Youth Leadership Program

Toastmasters International has been invested in the Youth for many years. They’ve put together a training that was implemented successfully over time. However, Christina Kruis, Direct Past District Director for District 42, felt that to connect with younger kids, we had to adapt the program in such a way that we could engage with them.

We had a pilot program at the Seton Library Calgary in 2019 run by the current Region 4 PRM, Marcy Field. We realized we had untapped potential when we experienced the astronomical growth of the youth. 

“I learned to be brave”. Those words, from a young tween, after 6 weeks of programs, of showing up, of working with these kids, had all of us blink away tears. We ran a few successful in-person training sessions after that, with the same mind-blowing results.

When Covid turned the collective globe on its axis, I wanted to continue the training. It was a great opportunity to create an online training as well as complete my requisite project to achieve my Distinguished Toastmaster status. Having worked with youth for many years I just couldn’t, not do something.

As with anything else, there is always someone with more experience in toastmasters. I had seasoned Toastmasters on my committee who have been involved with the youth in one way or another. My special thanks go to Christina Kruis, Cheryl Dust, Lisa Branch, and Marshall Ennis. Together we polished, chopped, and added training material and methods until I could run the training sessions. Adam McDonald, the YLP Coordinator for the past two years, was involved along the way with his shared knowledge.

We had 20 students sign up from the 4H group in Cremona. Without the buy-in of the parents, the program would not have been the success it was. Those 20 students showed up at every, single session over the 6 weeks. Without the volunteers who believe in the program, I could not have done this.

We gave those kids the opportunity to tap their leadership potential. They learned Toastmaster skills quicker than most of us. Their evaluations were of the same caliber of contestants at the district level and beyond. They took over the sessions as Toastmasters and let me tell you, the students were fantastic. The Timers ensured every training was run on time per the agenda I sent them. These youngsters also signed up for the roles of Quizmaster, and Evaluator. They signed up for Word-of-the-Day, Thought-of-the-Day. They ran Table Topics without a hitch. 

The students and their parents had to learn new skills with Zoom. They were like the proverbial sponges, and after 6 weeks every single one got their Toastmasters Certificate.

A huge win was when they continued to their regional Contests. Every category had one of our Toastmaster students in the top three. They used the skills we shared with them to succeed beyond their expectations.

“How does it work,?” you might ask.

This is how we plan to continue with the YLP training in District 42:

  1. As the YLP coordinator in District 42, I should be aware of all YLP sessions run within the District. My email is
  2. There will be a training session in October, and another next year, for everyone planning to run a session.
  3. We would appreciate it if the sessions were the same format throughout the District – to continue to maintain the high standard achieved with the pilot online sessions.
  4. The program is such that it could be used both online and in person.
  5. When a program is run there should be enough volunteers at every session to ensure there’s help for the students. 
  6. Just a note: The certificates are not awarded if the kids didn’t:
  7. Attend every session, every week
  8. Take on every role
  9. Present prepared speeches
  10. Participate to have completed the required number of Table Topics
  11. Every session is under the umbrella of the home club of the individual.

 I look forward to seeing how we will transform our Leaders of Tomorrow this coming year. After all, if we show them their potential, we grow exponentially along with them.

Irma Goosen

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