Pilot youth program graduates 16 polished speakers
By: Susan Jones
| Posted: Saturday, Jun 09, 2012 06:00 am
Eight weeks ago 16 very nervous youths from local junior and senior high schools began a pilot public-speaking program organized by St. Albert Aimcriers Toastmasters club. At their graduation ceremonies last Sunday, they all had something to talk about.
“They came with no previous speaking experience, but the best thing was, being kids, there was very little hesitation on their part to learn new things. And they didn’t have the baggage that comes with having had bad public speaking experiences before,” said Doug Hartman.
The program was free to the youngsters who took part and was organized by Hartman and his co-Toastmasters, Glenn Helton and Cathie Sarafinchen. It was advertised through posters hung at the St. Albert Public Library as well as at a number of schools.
The training was intense and packed with several opportunities for the youths to practice public speaking. They each gave two prepared speeches but they also took part in off-the-cuff speaking sessions and they evaluated each other’s speaking techniques. In addition, they gained organizational and leadership experience by helping to prepare the meetings.
“It was fascinating to watch them because they all started from the same nervous place, but then we saw them breaking new ground and learning speaking skills. In a very short time we saw them gain confidence,” Hartman said.
Vlad Nykolyshyn, 15, and a Grade 9 student at Lorne Akins, registered at his parents’ urging, but to his surprise, found it was interesting even though he had to dedicate an hour and a half each Sunday to the course.
“It was really cool. For my first speech I talked about the last three years of my life. I learned to organize my speaking techniques,” Nykolyshyn said.
Thomas Nef, 13, has already used his Toastmaster skills when he spoke recently in front of all the students in his school.
“Our principal was leaving the school and someone from each class had to speak. I represented my class,” Nef said.
Nef is a recent immigrant from Chile and he found the class also helped him to improve his English speaking skills.
“I was surprised at how much I learned. It’s something everyone should try and it was a lot of fun. I learned to speak nice and loud and clear, with confidence,” he said.