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Toast of the town
As one of five children, Jeremy Kramer has long had to speak up. With the Toastmasters, he can make what he says, well-said.
Jeremy is 16 – showing that the confidence and camaraderie that come with being in the Toastmasters aren't just appealing to adults.
After tagging along and showing a healthy curiosity at their parents' meetings of the famous public speaking club, a few local students decided to bang out their own niche with the new Yuma Youth Command Gavel Club, an official offshoot for the younger set.
The “Gaveliers” do everything the adults do en route to honing an engaging presence. They hold the same leadership positions, follow the same format and ultimately have the same goal as all Toastmaster devotees: to become effective communicators.
Rysalynn Richey, 12, finds she isn't so withdrawn when she has an audience at club meetings.
“I am very shy so this is actually a benefit for me,” she said.
At a recent meeting, the Gaveliers shared their range with short prepared speeches on their backgrounds and interests. Club president Conner Davis, 16, gave a well-received, humorous spiel on video games, including his prediction that the new Wii U will “flop like a pancake.” Brenden Cody talked about scouting. Hannah Kramer talked about baby-sitting and music. Noel Robles spoke about his interest in politics.
Those who did not give prepared speeches were assigned to evaluate a speaker. They also got in on the action by being part of the impromptu “Table Topics,” taking on whimsical and fantastic topics like how they would decorate if they lived inside a giant peach, how they would survive the Zombie Apocalpyse, or what they would eat if they only had five days to live.
Some spoke quietly, while others projected; some had their prepared speeches memorized, while others used notes. A few even remembered to use the word of the night, “petrified” (but nobody acted like they were).
The members agreed that the club provides a valuable opportunity.
“I find that public speaking is one of the most important skills you can have,” Conner said.
The Gaveliers meet on the second and fourth Thursday of every month from 6:30 to 8 p.m., usually at First Christian Church, 3261 S. Avenue 6 E. Adult Toastmasters are on hand to mentor, give immediate feedback and handle administrative matters that cannot be conducted by minors. The club is open to youth ages 12 to 17 from any school, including home-school.
To get involved, contact Lori Davis at email@example.com.
Hillary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.