“Our children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. The famous lyrics of a Whitney Houston song resonate with every generation. The Sunshine Coast Youth Leadership Program (YLP) equips our young people with the skills to confidently develop their leadership and communication skills so they can lead our future.
Over 500 Youth Leadership Program certificates have been presented to Sunshine Coast students over the past 10 years. The program began at Chatelech High School when a member of the Sechelt Toastmasters Club offered to provide the program for his school’s leadership class. Twenty-five students participated in an eight-lesson program that got them talking.
The second year, students shared how they did well in interviews for summer jobs. Elphinstone High School (Gibsons) asked Gibson’s Toastmasters Club, Morningstars, if they could offer the same program to their leadership class. The program continued in both secondary schools, introducing 25 more students per school per year to public speaking skills and better communication.
Five years ago, Girl Guide leaders asked their eldest daughters, Rangers and Girl Scouts, to take the program to prepare for a big journey. The guides have arranged for another 12 girls to receive their certificates in February 2022.
Air cadets came on board four years ago. The local squadron wanted its young people to start participating in the Air Cadet Effective Speaking Competition. In the first two years of the program, one of the local cadets placed second, twice, at the Vancouver competition. Last year, in 2021, he not only finished first in British Columbia, but also won the national competition. He won the gold medal, the first time for British Columbia in 10 years.
This year, Pender Harbor Secondary School joined the program. Their Year 11 students will follow the YLP from March.
Members of the Gibsons and Sechelt Toastmasters clubs volunteer to lead these classes in schools and at Cadet and Guide meetings. This school year, more than 75 teens will earn a Toastmasters certificate along with lifelong skills in communication and leadership.
The growth of this program and the enthusiasm of the students should make us feel that we are going to be in good hands. Our young people will be ready to take the reins and lead our communities, our businesses and our country.