If you have ever heard about Toastmasters clubs, you probably know they are clubs in which adults have the opportunity to grow their confidence by developing public speaking and leadership skills in a friendly and supportive environment. I have been a Toastmaster for almost ten years, and although I had heard the term, “Gavel club”, I had no idea until a few weeks ago what on earth they are.
Gavel clubs are a way of providing the Toastmasters experience to groups who may be ineligible for regular membership due to age, inability to pay dues or other circumstances. Following similar Toastmasters club meeting protocols, Gavel clubs use club officer titles and education manuals. However, Gavel clubs are only considered an affiliate of Toastmasters International and their members are referred to as “Gaveliers”. Imagine that! Toastmasters Clubs for youth! Gavel clubs truly are the hidden gem of Toastmasters International….
To form a Gavel club, a group must not be eligible to charter as a regular Toastmasters club or must include members who are under 18. Since youths are typically involved in Gavel clubs, Toastmasters International does not promote the names of Gavel clubs to protect the safety of children.
There are only five Youth Gavel Clubs in the GTA and they are run by volunteers from the adult Toastmasters clubs. These clubs bring so much value and benefits to their members who learn valuable communication and leadership skills that they can take with them to become leaders within school and local community today and become the global leaders tomorrow. These clubs offer so much value that there is a waiting list almost as long as each gavel club membership list for new kids to enroll.
Running a Gavel club requires a lot of commitment since the clubs typically hold weekly meetings, but it is a very fulfilling experience. They provide regular Toastmasters members and clubs with an excellent opportunity for community service. It is also a great way to put the leadership skills you learned through Toastmasters to good use. Moreover, mentoring a Gavel club can also be used towards fulfilling your High Performance Leadership project.
Amparo Cifuentes (Junior Masters Gavel Club), Annie Bai (Mississauga Gavel Club), and Ryan Belluz (Brampton Gavel Club) are Toastmasters District 86 members who have been involved for a number of years as the main adult coordinators of their respective Youth Gavel Clubs. In addition, they have been organizing Inter-Youth Gavel Club speech contests together since the spring of 2016. They intend to continue supporting their own clubs and these contests because they believe the earlier our youth gets the chance to grow their confidence, leadership and communication skills, the greater the positive impact they and their communities will experience. These contests give the Gaveliers a greater chance to further develop those skills through healthy competition. It is indeed a labour of love and dedication that many youth in the GTA can benefit from. However, more awareness and interest needs to be created among Toastmasters club members, to organize additional Youth Gavel Clubs.
The costs to set up a gavel club are much lower than the costs to set up a regular Toastmasters club. Many Toastmasters already know about the benefits of the Toastmaster Youth Leadership Program (YLP). However, the YLP is only eight weeks long. A Gavel club, much like a Toastmasters club, does not have an “ending” period. It is the answer to that age-old question that many youth and parents and ask after a YLP, “What’s next? Is there anything offered by Toastmasters?” The invaluable benefits for youth to develop their communication, leadership, and confidence are paramount. There are no other skills that will positively affect a child throughout their lives such as these. Imagine how beneficial such a club could be in your community schools or places of worship. This is a tremendous opportunity to help develop many successful leaders in our communities. If you would like more information about starting new gavel clubs, please visit https://www.toastmasters.org/membership/how-to-start-a-new-club/gavel-clubs.
Muktha Tumkur, ACG, ALB with contributions from:
Amparo Cifuentes, DTM
Annie Bai, ACG, ALB
Ryan Belluz, ACB, ALB