June 16, 2021

Cayman Islands Toastmasters Youth Leadership Programme Graduates 11

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The Youth Leadership Programme (YLP), run by the Grand Cayman Toastmasters Club, graduated 11 young leaders on Saturday, 21 October.

“The aim of the programme is to teach participants to be better thinkers, listeners and speakers,” Assistant Co-ordinator and Master of Ceremonies, Toastmaster Josette Lawrence explained. “Skills learned during the eight-week programme can be transferred to the classroom and other aspects of their lives. Every week I had the immense pleasure of seeing our young people grow from strength to strength.”

This year’s graduates, aged 13 to 18, were Alex Richards, Dejea Lyons, Hannah Lawrence, Taejah-Rae Nixon, Bradley McLaughlin, Carlyah Santo, Diandra Whittaker, Martina Watler, Romilly Miller, Tarec Francis and Thea Foster-Ebanks. Participants were from Clifton Hunter High School, John Gray High School, University College of the Cayman Islands, St. Ignatius Catholic School, Cayman International School and Cayman Prep and High School. Several of the participants are members of the Youth Flex Programme that is run by the Youth Services Unit’s Acting Director James Myles.

After the welcome and opening remarks by civil servant Toastmaster Lawrence, four of the participants delivered speeches. Amateur chef Bradley McLaughlin spoke about his passion for cooking, Carlyah Santo gave an ice-breaker speech introducing herself to the audience, Hannah Lawrence spoke on the art of self-expression and Martina Watler spoke on the significance of art in life to family and friends.

The speeches were evaluated by a panel of fellow YLP participants who gave verbal feedback. Speeches were assessed for criteria including content, use of sophisticated vocabulary, structure and coherence of speech. Physical cues, including maintaining eye contact, use of body language and speaking up, were also reviewed.
The Table Topics session, presented by President Kimberley Conolly of Eloquent Speakers, followed with selected members of the audience blind-picking an item from a bag. They were asked to respond at length to a question involving the item. The exercise showed the speakers’ powers to ad lib. President, Grand Cayman Toastmasters Club, Finley Josephs gave a particularly amusing response.

Before handing out graduation certificates at the George Town Library event, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson gave remarks on leadership. He said that true leaders were inspirational and did not blindly maintain the status quo. Mr. Manderson personally congratulated each graduate and commended them on following their dreams.

Area Director, Paul Persaud presented awards to Carlyah Santo for Most Improved speaker and Hannah Lawrence for Best Speaker. He emphasised that these awards were especially meaningful, as the young leaders were selected by their peers and the toastmasters through a democratic voting process.

Toastmaster Anna Clarke, the overall programme Co-ordinator, received a special mention for work in making the programme a success. “This has been a rewarding experience for me,” Toastmaster Clarke said.  “At the first session, I did most of the talking but I promised participants they would be able to do the same by the end of week seven.  This was evident by the display of chairmanship and choice of speech topics. Both were well received by their peers and the coordinators.”

Diandra Whittaker gave a vote of thanks, extending appreciation to Kirk Freeport for giving each graduate a gift certificate. She also thanked assistant coordinators, Toastmasters Merrell McCann, Jodiann Jackson, Kevin Creary and Gerry Robinson.

Members of the Eloquent Speakers Club and Scotia Bank Pioneer Club, which are other on-island chapters of Toastmasters, who contributed to the leadership programme also attended the ceremony.


Captions and pictures Elphina Jones, GIS

YLP1: (L-r): Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, Toastmaster Josette Lawrence, Taejah-Rae Nixon and Toastmaster Merrell McCann.
YLP4: The Deputy Governor Franz Manderson hands over a graduation certificate to talented amateur chef and Youth Flex participant Bradley McLaughlin.
YLP8: The Deputy Governor hands Carlyah Santos her Most Improved Speaker trophy.
YLP10: The Deputy Governor hands Hannah Lawrence her Best Speaker trophy.
YLP11: Martina Watler gives an impassioned speech on the significance of art in life.

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